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UK Hospitals Barred From Taking On Foreign Nurses

Article Date: 03 Jul 2006 - 12:00pm (PDT)

In a drive to give home-grown nurses a chance to grow and flourish, UK hospitals will be told to stop taking on foreign nurses unless that vacancy cannot be filled domestically or from the European Union. This applies to junior nurses, bands 5 and 6. A band 5 or 6 nurse has up to 18 months experience, usually much less.

Basically, it means employers will have to advertise locally, or within the EU, for junior nursing posts as bands 5 and 6 are taken off the shortage occupation list.

According to the Royal College of Nursing, the move is wrong. It accuses the UK government of using foreign trained nurses as a scapegoat for the National Health Service's financial mess.

Lord Warner, Health Minister, said as more money had been invested in training for junior nurses, the need to go abroad for large scale recruitment is now over. He added that the measure - recruiting junior nurses from abroad in large numbers - was only a temporary one. He said "The aim of the NHS has always been to look towards home-grown staff in the first instance and have a diverse workforce that reflects local communities. The NHS has seen historical levels of investment and a period of expansions in the nursing workforce since 1997 in order to help reduce waiting times, improve access to services and ensure high quality treatment and care. On top of this we have made a huge investment in education and training and in the development of robust recruitment and retention policies. This is now bearing fruit."

This new government move does not affect senior nurses, nurses with specialist skills, or foreign trained nurses who are already working in the United Kingdom.

The Royal College of Nursing said this measure would have an immediate negative effect. About 150,000 nurses are going to be retiring over the next few years. There will never be enough home-trained nurses to fill up these numbers. The College asked the government to provide proof that foreign trained nurses are no longer needed for new vacancies.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today

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