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Government unable to confirm if its 10,000 overseas nurses target has been met

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid pledged to reach this figure for international nurse recruitment by end of March to help address workfroce crisis as NHS faces record waiting lists

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid pledged to reach this figure for international nurse recruitment by end of March to help boost workfroce as NHS faces record waiting lists

The government has been unable to confirm if it met its target of recruiting 10,000 international nurses in England by the end of March.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid pledged in February to recruit that number by 31 March, to bolster the NHS workforce in the face of record waiting lists for treatment.

Government plan to plug the nurse staffing gaps

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid

Writing in the Daily Telegraph at the time, Mr Javid said the NHS aimed ‘to recruit 10,000

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid pledged to reach this figure for international nurse recruitment by end of March to help boost workfroce as NHS faces record waiting lists

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Picture: iStock

The government has been unable to confirm if it met its target of recruiting 10,000 international nurses in England by the end of March.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid pledged in February to recruit that number by 31 March, to bolster the NHS workforce in the face of record waiting lists for treatment.

Government plan to plug the nurse staffing gaps

Sajid Javid
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid

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

He also issued a stark warning that NHS waiting lists in England will not start to fall for another two years, with overseas recruitment forming a large part of the government’s plan to plug staffing gaps.

However, when asked by Nursing Standard whether the target has been met, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was unable to confirm recent international recruitment figures.

A spokesperson said: ‘International recruitment has long been part of the NHS workforce strategy and remains a critical part of our plans to deliver 50,000 more nurses in our NHS, alongside our ambitious plans to boost domestic supply.’

‘Disproportionate’ reliance on overseas-trained staff

The department instead said overall progress towards the 50,000 nurses commitment, including overseas recruitment, would be announced later this year.

It pointed to recruitment figured for the first six months of 2021-22, in which 10,958 overseas-trained nurses join the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register, adding that although this includes nurses across the UK and in non-NHS settings, it has confidence the 10,000 target will be met.

RCN director for England Patricia Marquis said international nursing staff are ‘invaluable’ to the health service but must not be relied on ‘disproportionately’.

‘Ministers must recognise that the fact that half of those joining the UK nursing profession last year were internationally recruited shows our disproportionate reliance on them,’ she said. ‘If ministers are serious about boosting the domestic recruitment, they must give nursing staff a pay rise that recognises their professional skill.'

Ramping up international recruitment

Overseas recruitment has significantly increased during COVID-19, with this source expected to deliver between 51,000 and 57,000 more nurses by 2024, according to the DHSC.

The NMC has promised to accelerate the process of registration for overseas staff to support this ambition.

There are 39,652 registered nursing vacancies in England, according to the latest staff vacancy data.


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