‘I know of nurses from India living in terrible conditions’ in the UK
Spokesperson for Kerala nurses talks of multiple families crammed into small houses and warns many may leave, while report reveals most overseas nurses in past year came from India
Nurses from India coming to work in the UK have described being crammed in small properties with their families and a lack of support when settling in.
It comes as new research reveals most internationally educated nurses that came to the UK in the past year came from India.
‘I don’t feel we are doing enough to support them’
General secretary of the Alliance of Senior Kerala Nurses Bejoy Sebastian told Nursing Standard of the harsh realities many faced when moving to the UK in search of a better life, risking an exodus of desperately needed recruits.
‘I know of nurses living in terrible conditions. There are examples of two to three families being crammed into a two-bedroom house,’ he said.
‘It becomes really difficult for them to do their jobs and I don’t feel we are doing enough to support them to settle here. That is where I think we as a country are failing. It has left many of them wondering why they moved to the UK.’
Mr Sebastian said many nurses were ‘running out of options’ to support themselves and were seriously considering leaving the UK.
‘If we don’t retain them, we also lose the money we’ve spent to bring them here’
The NHS is heavily reliant on international recruits, with around half of new Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registrants in the last year having trained overseas.
‘We are very lucky to have overseas nurses here, we need them to help look after our communities, at least until we can train more of our own staff,’ Mr Sebastian said.
‘If we don’t retain them, we not only lose them to countries like Australia, the US and Canada, we also lose the money we’ve spent to bring them here and then have to rely on expensive agency staff to fill gaps.’
‘Unprecedented’ numbers of overseas health staff coming to UK to plug gaps
A new study by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford has warned of ‘unprecedented’ numbers of overseas health and care workers coming to the UK in the year ending March 2023 as the health service looks to combat staff shortages.
The report revealed 25,947 visas were granted to nurses during in the year ending March 2023.
According to the Migration Observatory, Indian nurses made up 46% of nurses granted sponsorship for UK skilled worker visas in 2022, compared with 22% from the Philippines, 14% from Nigeria, 6% from Ghana and 3% from Zimbabwe.
India overtakes Philippines in number of nurses on register
In 2022-23, the number of nurses on the UK register educated in India overtook those from the Philippines, the latest NMC annual data report shows.
There were 48,395 India-trained nurses on the register by March 2023, compared with 45,472 from the Philippines.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘International nurses play a vital role in the NHS and their health and well-being is paramount.
‘Pastoral support has been a key part of the NHS’s international recruitment programme, which recognises the additional support overseas nurses may need when coming to work in the UK for the first time.’
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