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Potential nurse shortage in the Philippines threatens future supply of staff to the UK

International Council of Nurses’ Howard Catton says shortfall ‘is a big issue for the world’

International Council of Nurses’ Howard Catton says shortfall ‘is a big issue for the world’


Nursing students in the Philippines. Picture: Alamy

The supply line of nurses from the Philippines to the UK could be threatened as reports emerge of nursing shortages in the country.

The issue was discussed at the recent International Council of Nurses (ICN) congress in Singapore, where chief executive Howard Catton said a reduction in the number of nurses educated in the Philippines could have implications far beyond the country’s borders.

‘Major supply route’

‘The Philippines has been a supplier of nurses to the world and they have, in the past, deliberately overproduced nurses,’ Mr Catton said.

‘I am hearing reports of shortages and, if what I am hearing is correct, that is a big issue for the Philippines, and it is a big issue for the world in terms of where the future supply of nurses is going to come from if a major supply route is drying up.’

In the UK, the staff shortfall could undermine the strategy of the interim NHS People Plan to rely on international recruitment to boost nurse numbers. 


Howard Catton

Global report

Mr Catton called for more information on the shortages to inform work on the State of the World’s Nursing report. This will be published by the World Health Organization (WHO) to coincide with next year’s WHO-designated Year of the Nurse and Midwife, as well as the bicentenary celebrations of the birth of Florence Nightingale.

The WHO is collecting data for the report from countries around the world, including the UK.


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