Proposed £36,000 salary threshold for migrants ‘should not apply to nurses’

Think tank’s suggested minimum salary threshold sparks nurse recruitment concerns

Think tank’s suggested minimum salary threshold sparks nurse recruitment concerns

Illustration of a door allowing access to the UK, with a world map in the background
Picture: Alamy

A Conservative think tank says nurses should be exempt from its recommendation to raise the UK’s migrant salary threshold to £36,700.

Under the proposal, the minimum salary requirement of £36,700 would apply to both EU and non-EU migrants after Brexit. 

The Centre for Social Justice’s recommendations to government have sparked concern that overseas nurses could be shut out of the UK workforce.

‘Threshold is a threat to nursing in the UK’

Nurses are currently on the government’s Shortage Occupation List, meaning nursing professionals from outside the UK and the European Economic Area wanting to work in the UK are exempt from a salary threshold of at least £30,000, and an annual cap on numbers.

But an RCN spokesperson warned there were ‘no guarantees’ nursing would remain on this list permanently, meaning minimum salary thresholds might be applied to nurses in future. 

‘Considering the starting salary for nurses is about £23,000, a £30,000 threshold is a threat to nursing in the UK, never mind £36,000,’ the spokesperson said. ‘Saying nurses will be exempt is really not good enough unless that’s lasting and definite.'

The college estimates there are currently 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone and has previously warned that international recruitment must not be stifled.

Where do the UK’s overseas nurses come from?

The latest Nursing and Midwifery Council figures reveal:

  •  A 126% leap in the number of nurses and midwives from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) registering to work in the UK – rising from 2,720 last year to 6,157 this year
  • The number of nurses from the EEA registered to work in the UK fell from 38,024 in March 2017 to 33,035 in March 2019


Independent committee to consider salary thresholds

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘We recognise the vital role that overseas nurses play in our NHS. Our new immigration system will allow us to take full control and prioritise the people who will add significant value to our country.

‘We have asked independent experts at the Migration Advisory Committee to look at the issue of salary thresholds and we will consider all the evidence before finalising them.’

The government is due to make a decision on salary thresholds next year.

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