Some 7,000 foreign nurses in United Kingdom could be sent home in 2020 under new immigration rules, the Royal College of Nurses warned.
RCN said the that the visa rule changes due to come into effect in April next year will ’cause chaos’ in the health service. Under the new rules, non-EU workers who are earning less than £35,000 after six years in the UK will be deported.
The rules will compromise patient safety in the NHS and result in millions of pounds being “thrown down the drain,” the union said.
“The UK will be sending away nurses who have contributed to the health service for six years,” said RCN chief executive Dr Peter Carter. “Losing their skills and knowledge and then having to start the cycle again and recruit to replace them is completely illogical.”
The new rules form part of the government’s key policy to reduce immigration and demand for migrant labour and “ensure that only the brightest and best” immigrants stay in the country permanently.
The RCN warns that more than 6,000 NHS nurses could be affected by the end of the decade, resulting in a waste of £40m when total recruitment costs are taken into account, reports the BBC.
The group is calling on the government to add nursing to the list of occupations that are exempt from the restrictions and to reconsider the income threshold, pointing out that nurses rarely receive such high salaries, especially within the first six years of their careers.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper accused the government of delivering “the worst of all worlds,” according to The Independent.
“They have not provided enough training places for nurses here in Britain,” she said, “and now they want to send away the fully trained nurses who have been working here for many years even though the local NHS want them to stay, and there are no local staff to fill the gap.”
Responding to the criticism, the government said there was no evidence of a nursing shortage and that “employers have had since 2011 to prepare for the possibility their non-EEA workers may not meet the required salary threshold to remain in the UK permanently.”
Most of nurses in NHS come from the Philippines and India, and these countries have provided a steady supply of nurses to for many decades. [via Source]