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How important is immigration for NHS nursing?

Following Brexit, we look at the numbers to find out how far the NHS relies on nurses from other nations

55,000 out of the 1.2 million staff in the English NHS are citizens of other EU countries

Nationality of nursing workforce, by region 2015

Immigration is important to British nursing. Foreign nurses make up almost 15% of the UK workforce. The UK has relied on overseas nursing expertise for a long time.


English Health Service's Electronic Staff Record - Sept 2015
Working in NHS England

Thousands of nurses were denied permission to work in England last year, despite hospitals facing staff shortages... A Freedom of Information request to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) found more than 2,341 refusals.

BBC, 14 Jan 2016
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35313325

Hospitals are facing staff shortages across the country

A Government report released in Feb 2016 said that "rapid growth in the number of nurses employed over the last 2.5 years has resulted in an increase in the ratio of nurses to patients." Unfortunately, Dec 2011 to May 2013 saw a fall in nurse-to-patient ratios. In addition, the number of admissions since the rise in nurse numbers has meant that the supply of nurses has "failed to keep up with demand."

"Restrictions on non-EU immigrants have affected NHS recruitment, suggesting that the same could happen if there were limits on EU immigration"

Fullfact.org, Sept 2015

The proportion of registered nurses and midwives from the EU represents a sharp expansion from even a few years ago. EU immigrant nursing numbers have risen at a time when the numbers of British-trained nurses has fallen.

https://fullfact.org/immigration/immigration-and-nhs-staff/

Two thirds of NHS Trusts need migrants for jobs

"The escalating NHS recruitment crisis is forcing more than two-thirds of trusts to look to migrants to fill vacancies, according to figures released after a freedom of information request by the BBC."

The Guardian, Feb 2016

Nurses and Midwives from EU countries 2015

English Health Service's Electronic Staff Record - Sept 2015
Working in NHS England

Following Brexit, Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said of NHS nursing recruitment: "The UK is completely unprepared to deal with the uncertainty caused by leaving the European Union. In the near future, this uncertainty threatens the international recruitment which the NHS will rely on for many years to come. Staff from EU countries who work in the UK must be given reassurance over their future."

Brexit could impact "pipeline" of nurses

Speaking to Health Service Journal, Jackie Smith, chief executive of the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) said Brexit will affect the pipeline of nurses to the NHS. She suggested that EU nurses looking to work in the UK may face application difficulties following Britain's decision to leave the EU: "EU nurses have to verify documents with us and take an English language test, where it is appropriate, but they don't have to get a visa. There are bound to be things that make the process longer"

Health Service Journal, July 2016

Nurses and midwives from non-EU countries 2015

English Health Service's Electronic Staff Record - Sept 2015
Working in NHS England

EU immigrants make up about 5% of English NHS staff and about 5% of the English population. Immigrants from outside the EU make up larger proportions. Restrictions on non-EU immigrants have affected NHS recruitment, suggesting that the same could happen if there were limits on EU immigration.

https://fullfact.org/immigration/immigration-and-nhs-staff/

Non-EU nationals in nursing year-on-year

"In an effort to control immigration, the government has imposed strict caps on the number of non-EU workers who can come to the UK. This cap is harming British industry, which is prevented from recruiting the best and brightest from around the world, but it is particularly damaging to the NHS."


Where nationality is known
Working in NHS England
English Health Service's Electronic
Staff Record - Sept 2015
Huffingtonpost - June 2016

"It seems unlikely EU nationals already working in the UK will be 'sent home'... However, the uncertainty about their status may tempt some nurses to return to their home countries and others may be put off coming to the UK. At the moment non-EU nurses have to go through a complicated application process to work in the UK and it is possible that this will be extended to EU nurses post-Brexit."


RCNi - July 2016

EU nationals in nursing year-on-year

Where nationality is known
Working in NHS England
English Health Service's Electronic
Staff Record - Sept 2015

"Leading NHS figures have warned that "stringent" immigration rules are preventing them from getting enough nurses on wards in time for winter."

BBC, 10 Sept 2015
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-34191123

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