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Readers’ panel: Should the UK stop recruiting nurses from developing countries?

Interim chief executive of the International Council of Nurses Thomas Kearns has urged Western nations not to ‘destroy’ the health systems of developing countries by draining them of nurses to fill their own staffing gaps, and focus on homegrown staff instead. Nursing Standard readers have their say.

The interim chief executive of the International Council of Nurses has urged Western nations not to ‘destroy’ the health systems of developing countries by draining them of nurses to fill their own staffing gaps. Nursing Standard readers have their say

A group of Filipino nurses reporting for duty at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Picture: News Team International

Beverley Ramdeen is a senior nursing lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire 

Recruiting nurses globally as a quick fix for the shortage of UK nurses is short-sighted. The recruitment process should not prevent staff from around the world coming to work in the UK, but more long-term planning is needed. It makes more sense to improve existing working conditions for UK nurses in terms of pay, staffing levels and leadership. Helping trusts to develop their own staff is a more sustainable plan than recruiting from developing countries.

Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London 

Overseas nurses contribute a great deal to the NHS, but I feel uncomfortable with how quickly we go abroad to recruit whenever there is a nursing shortage in the UK. When I started nursing 25 years ago, the NHS was being criticised for ‘poaching’ nurses from the European Union. The UK is losing nurses with a lot of experience who cannot easily be replaced. We need to train more nurses, but we also need to focus on retaining the ones we have.

Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse and PhD student in Nottingham 

Recruiting staff from developing countries may seem selfish, yet this arrangement allows nurses to send money home to support their families and their economy. Some countries, such as the Philippines, deliberately over-recruit nursing students with the goal of ‘exporting’ them abroad as an invisible export. Countries must work together to avert a global healthcare crisis, but for now we have no choice but to recruit from other countries to avert our own crisis.

Grant Byrne is a nursing student in Edinburgh 

The UK nursing shortage comes from a chronic government failure to plan the workforce effectively. Overseas recruitment is still not enough to meet demand, and hiring nurses from abroad comes with significant costs to the NHS that could be avoided by ‘growing our own’. As well as training nurses, we must retain those we already have. Awarding a proper pay rise would show nursing staff that they are valued and help stem the flow of staff from the profession, reducing the need to recruit from overseas.

Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only 

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