NURSING: Foreign staff are essential to NHS

A crisis is looming in our hospitals, our care homes and our community nursing services.

Nurses recruited from outside the European Economic Area since 2011, who provide vital care to our region’s patients, face being removed from the country if they are not earning at least £35,000 after six years.

The government’s changes to immigration rules make no sense in a profession such as nursing where few can hope to achieve such a wage.

These nurses, recruited at a cost of thousands of pounds to the NHS, are filling gaps in our workforce we cannot fill ourselves due to cuts to nurse training. Without their help, our services would grind to a halt with potentially catastrophic consequences. Across the North East and Cumbria, hundreds of nursing staff could be affected, in turn damaging services and compromising the safety of patients.

The Royal College of Nursing is calling for the government to act now to address this anomaly by ensuring nurses are among the professions exempt from this rule and also by increasing training places so we are less reliant on other countries, many of which will have their own challenges providing health services.

These nurses have come to our region to care for us, our families, our friends. We must act now to protect them and the services they provide if we are to avert a crisis, which is looking inevitable.

Sarah Dodsworth

Royal College of Nursing, Regional Director (Northern Region)