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RCN warns of impact on nursing if salary threshold for migrants is raised

The Home Office is considering a recommendation to raise the amount of money non-European migrants must earn to work in the UK

The RCN has warned the government that it must consider safe patient care, not just immigration targets, when deciding whether to ban inexperienced migrant nurses from working in the UK.

The government last week responded to the Commons home affairs committee on immigration skill shortages. Its response stopped short of deciding whether to ensure non-European nurses earning less than £30,000 can continue to work in the UK.

Instead, it is waiting for the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to decide whether migrant nurses should continue to work in the UK because there are not enough UK nurses. MAC is due to report within weeks.

The government’s strategy is to reduce net migration. However, home secretary Theresa May last year temporarily placed non-European nurses on a shortage occupation list to ease pressure on the NHS.

The home affairs committee argued that the government’s cap of 20,700 on the number of skilled migrants who can enter the country can make planning recruitment difficult for employers.

RCN head of policy Howard Catton said: ‘The home affairs committee is right that nursing must remain on the shortage occupation list until the UK is much closer to training enough nurses to meet demand. The government should be aware that this will not happen any time soon unless there is a far greater increase in training places.’

The government warned that the minimum salary that skilled migrants should earn to gain visas to work in the UK should rise from £20,800 to £30,000.

Mr Catton has now said: ‘If the minimum salary threshold is increased by the Home Office without an assurance from the Department of Health that nursing pay will also rise, healthcare organisations will be unable to fill vacancies.’

The starting salary for a band 7 nurse is £31, 072.

The government told the home affairs committee that there are 7,600 more nurses in the NHS since 2010 and a further 23,000 additional nurses will be in place by 2019. ‘The Department of Health is recruiting more home-grown nurses by significantly increasing training places, promoting return to practice programmes and improving retention of existing staff,’ it said.

 

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