How important is immigration for NHS nursing? The numbers of foreign NHS nurses will give you an answer

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

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

Meanwhile in Britain

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. reports the BBC, 14 Jan 2016

Reaqction to the situation 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.

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.

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

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. Almost 6% of the nurses are EU trained and around 7% are non-eu nurses.

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.”

But from where? Number of nurses and midwives from EU countries 2015

From this graph it is easy to see the trends of the NHS. It is largely dependent on foreign mostly EU trained workforce.

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.”

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

Number of nurses and midwives from Non-EU countries 2015

It is also good to know when taking into consideration any limitation on EU migrants, that leading NHS figures have warned that “stringent” immigration rules are preventing them from getting enough nurses on wards in time for winter.


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