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Overseas recruitment: government promises 10,000 nurses by end of March

Pledge is part of plan to tackle record waiting lists in England, but healthcare unions urge government to ‘get a grip on workforce planning’

Pledge is part of plan to tackle record waiting lists in England, but healthcare unions urge government to ‘get a grip on workforce planning’

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has pledged to recruit 10,000 international nurses in England by the end of March in a bid to bolster the NHS workforce in the face of record waiting lists for treatment.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph , Mr Javid said the NHS aimed ‘to recruit 10,000 more nurses from overseas and 5,000 more healthcare support workers’ to increase capacity.

Number of people waiting for treatment in England hits all-time high

Pledge is part of plan to tackle record waiting lists in England, but healthcare unions urge government to ‘get a grip on workforce planning’

Picture: Neil O'Connor

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has pledged to recruit 10,000 international nurses in England by the end of March in a bid to bolster the NHS workforce in the face of record waiting lists for treatment.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Javid said the NHS aimed ‘to recruit 10,000 more nurses from overseas and 5,000 more healthcare support workers’ to increase capacity.

Number of people waiting for treatment in England hits all-time high

The long-awaited NHS recovery plan for England published yesterday states the NHS is seeking nurses with experience in critical care and theatres. The overseas recruitment aims to contribute to the government’s election promise of 50,000 more nurses by 2025.

Mr Javid issued a stark warning that the NHS waiting list in England will not start to fall for another two years. The number of people waiting for hospital treatment in England has hit an all-time high of six million – up from 4.4 million before the pandemic – with 300,000 patients waiting for more than a year.

Unions berate government for ‘absence of a fully costed workforce strategy’

Healthcare leaders and unions called on the government to strengthen its workforce strategy.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘Every response – from health and care leaders and across the political divide – asks this government to get a grip on workforce planning. It is critical to the safety of patients.’

NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor said: ‘The single biggest barrier to stopping this [NHS recovery] plan from being achieved is the absence of a fully costed workforce strategy.’

He added that clearing the treatment backlog would be impossible if there was not the ‘right number and mix of staff’.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: ‘Convincing disillusioned NHS staff to stay must be the government's number one priority. If health employees leave at a faster rate than new people can be recruited and trained, waiting lists won't ever shorten.

‘The public will be confused by the health secretary's promise of what seems to be thousands of new staff within two months. What's really needed is a huge effort to stop the staffing exodus, starting with an above-inflation pay rise.’

Increasing the level of international recruitment

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) recently revealed that hundreds of international nurses were added to its register in a matter of weeks as the regulator looks to accelerate recruitment from overseas.

Chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe told an NMC council meeting on 26 January that 575 nurses from overseas had been registered in the previous week.

In December, in response to rising staff absences, the NMC reopened its temporary register to internationally trained nurses who were already on their pathway to full NMC registration.

In the same month, NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard told health service bosses to ‘accelerate recruitment plans… and where possible bring forward the arrival of internationally recruited nurses’.


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