Analysis

Collapse in overseas nurse recruits exposes UK’s staffing shortfall

A ‘collapse’ in the number of overseas nurses coming to work in the NHS is contributing to high vacancy levels, according to a new report on clinical staff shortages.

In the past, international recruitment has helped fill gaps between predicted and actual demand for nurses, but the NHS can no longer rely on such assistance.

About 15,000 nurses from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) joined the nursing register each year in the early 2000s.

This plunged to 775 by 2008-09 and has not recovered since. In 2014-15, a mere 665 non-EEA nurses were registered in the UK.

The stark message of the report, published last month by NHS Improvement, is that we do not have enough nurses in the NHS, and supply is unable to keep up with rising demand. Its report says that NHS hospitals are 15,000 nurses short of what they need, yet short-term solutions are scarce.

So, what happened to the UKs once bountiful supply of nurses from countries including the Philippines, India and South Africa?

There has

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