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Nursing added to shortage occupation list

Home Office move will make it easier for hospitals to recruit nurses from outside the EU

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Nursing has been declared an occupation that officially has shortages, which will make it easier for hospitals to recruit more nurses from outside the EU.

The NHS Confederation and NHS trusts have been lobbying for the change because changes to the immigration rules have made it difficult for them to recruit nursing staff from overseas.

Currently non-EU nurses have to join the general pool of non-EU visa applicants hoping to receive one of the 20,700 visas available each year.

The change will mean nurses are one of the professions which can be granted unlimited numbers of standard visas, as long as they have the backing of a UK employer.

The change will also mean that non-EU nurses earning less than £35,000 a year who have been in the UK for six years will not have to leave the country from April 2016.

The government said that the move was currently a temporary measure. Home Secretary Theresa May is writing to the Migration Advisory Committee asking it to place nursing on the shortage occupation list and to carry out a review over whether nursing should remain there long term.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Safe staffing across all our hospitals and care homes is a crucial priority.

“The temporary changes announced today will ensure the NHS has the nurses it needs to deliver the highest standards of care without having to rely on rip-off staffing agencies that cost the taxpayer billions of pounds a year."

Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive, NHS Employers said: “We are delighted with this positive announcement that nurses are to be included on the shortage occupation list as an interim measure.

“We know employers across England will welcome this support from the government for their efforts to deliver safe services this winter, and to also reduce their reliance on more expensive agency staff.

“We will continue our focused work with the NHS and our colleagues in the wider health and social care provision to ensure that the Migration Advisory Committee receive robust evidence to enable nursing to remain on the list of shortage occupations.”

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