Brexit effect: UK looks to India again to meet shortage of nurses
Britain’s health officials are in talks with India’s Apollo Hospitals to recruit nurses to meet the growing shortage in the National Health Service (NHS), hit by what has been described as an “exodus” of European nursing staff after the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union.
Indian doctors and nurses have long moved to Britain to meet the shortage. In fact, doctors trained in India are the second largest group in the NHS after those trained in the United Kingdom. New visa curbs have cut numbers, but the number of Indian health professionals remains very high.
Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England (HEE) – the national education and training body – told Health Service Journal this week that talks were on with Apollo Hospitals to send nurses who will be provided postgraduate training for two years.
Brexit was one of the reasons Britain was losing nursing staff, he said. Besides training, the Indian nurses will also help meet shortage during their stay here.
HEE and Apollo Hospitals signed a memorandum of understanding in 2015 on sharing staff and training opportunities, which has been used to source general practitioners, the journal reported. England currently has an estimated 40,000 nursing vacancies.
Cumming said: “They are looking for registered nurses working for their organisations who are seeking to get further training in paediatrics, ITU, theatres, A&E, etcetera and they are having a conversation with us on whether the NHS would be able to offer on the job training.
“This would be for a fixed period on an earn-learn-return basis – maybe two years. They work as nurses to get that postgraduate experience and training in the specialities we have in this country.”
Cummings did not mention figures for the number of Indian nurses, but said: “I don’t envisage it being single figures.”
According to him, the biggest problem was doctors and nurses no longer wanting to work full-time. Graduates trained in Britain “have come off the pipeline exactly as we anticipated,” he said.
However, he added: “More people at the higher end of expectations have left and we have seen an increase in part-time working . . . There is no point in just using the training pathway as the solution if we are then losing people.”