NHS looks abroad to recruit thousands of new nurses

Posted On: 
29th November 2017

The NHS is to bring in thousands of foreign nurses for time-limited placements to ease staffing shortages in English hospitals, health officials have said. 

The NHS is bringing in thousands of new nurses from abroad on temporary contracts
Credit: 
PA

The "earn, learn and return" scheme is designed to recruit some 5,500 new staff amid concerns that EU nationals are leaving the health service due to concerns about Brexit.

The chief executive of Health Education England, Ian Cumming, said he hoped 500 nurses would arrive from India by the end of March, with a pilot scheme already underway in the Yorkshire town of Harrogate.

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He added that the aim of the programme was for a temporary influx of staff and not to take away a "valued resource" from other countries. 

But the plan drew criticism from the Royal College of Nursing, which said the scheme can "barely be considered a sticking plaster”, given the 40,000 or so vacant nursing positions in the English NHS.

Nurses were left disappointed in last week's Budget when Chancellor Philip Hammond did not give in to demands for an above-inflation pay rise for the profession. 

While the Chancellor said nurses would get a pay rise, he declined to put a figure on it and said any increase would be the subject of discussions with trade unions.