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UK for clampdown on overseas nurses

The Govt is facing a surplus of available manpower from Britain and the European Union, a reason for clampdown on the recruitment.

india Updated: Jul 04, 2006 12:40 IST

Faced with budgetary cuts and surplus of available manpower from Britain and the European Union, the British government on Monday announced a clampdown on the recruitment of overseas nurses from countries such as India.

In the past, hundreds of nurses from the Indian sub-continent have taken up jobs in Britain's National Health Service, but of late many have had their contracts cancelled due to budgetary cuts.

Since nursing skills were in short supply in Britain, it used to be easy for overseas nurses to find employment as their job was listed by the Home Office in the shortage occupation list.

The role of nurses is now being taken off the list, official sources here said. According to health minister Lord Warner, the government had invested heavily in nurse training and recruitment policies and the country no longer faced a shortage of nurses.

He said in a statement: "We are now moving away from year-on-year growth in the NHS workforce to more of a steady state where there is a closer match between demand and supply.

Large-scale international nurse recruitment across the NHS was only ever intended to be a short-term measure.

"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.

Therefore to ensure that UK resident and newly trained nurses are given every opportunity to continue their career in the UK and to secure the future workforce of the NHS, we are today taking Agenda for Change band five and six nurses off the shortage list."

However, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) attacked the move, warning it would be impossible to replace retiring nurses with home-grown talent alone.

Beverly Malone, RCN general secretary, told the BBC:

"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 deficits crisis.

"Removing nursing from the list of recognised shortage professions is short-termism in the worst possible sense. We know that the vast majority of international nurses are employed in bands five and six, the very bands which are going to be affected.

"Over 150,000 nurses are due to retire in the next five to 10 years and we will not replace them all with home-grown nurses alone."