Foreign nurses aspiring to work in Britain will now have to face entry restrictions just like foreign doctors. According to new immigration laws, the employment of junior nurses from non-European Union countries by the National Health Service (NHS) has been banned unless the post cannot be filled by British or European Union applicants.
The move is designed to provide better job opportunities to home-grown nursing graduates.
The ban, that will be enforced from August 7, comes after the government made it compulsory for Indian and other non-EU doctors to get a work permit to enter Britain.
The ban will hit Indian nurses the most. Of the nearly 11,500 foreign nurses who came to Britain from outside the EU in 2004-05, Indians form the largest contingent. While 3,690 nurses had emigrated from India, 2,521 had come from the Philippines and 981 from Australia. The least number of nurses, 205, had come from Pakistan.
The new law removes nursing from the Home Office’s list of shortage occupation list.
The decision follows evidence that fewer than one in five nursing students graduating this summer here has a job to go to as hospital shed staff.
However, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) was critical of the ban. Its general secretary said international nurses “have always been there for the UK in times of need and it beggars belief that they are now being made scapegoats for the current deficit crisis.”