Lister Hospital bosses accused of turning away too many overseas nurses say: 'We have to follow the rules'
PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 January 2016
More than 80 nurses were denied the chance to work for East and North Herts NHS Trust last year because nursing was not viewed as a shortage occupation.
Data obtained by the Royal College of Nursing shows out of 111 nurses who applied, 84 nurses from outside the European Economic Area were refused permission to work at the trust between April 2015 and November 2015, because they could not get certificates of sponsorship to do so.
The certificates are only issued by the government to people in trades on its shortage occupation list – a limited number were issued to nurses before November 2015 to help address shortages.
That move followed a recommendation by the government’s migration advisory committee, but the RCN fears this might be brought to an end when the committee makes fresh recommendations next month.
RCN director for the eastern region, Karen Webb, said: “It is vital that healthcare organisations are able to recruit the right numbers of staff to provide safe levels of care.
“While we welcomed nursing being placed on the shortage occupation list in November, it is important that any future decisions consider the impact if healthcare providers are unable to recruit enough UK-trained nurses and are also denied the opportunity to bring in staff from other countries.”
The East & North Herts NHS Trust, which runs the Lister Hospital, had the greatest number of refusals for certificates of sponsorship anywhere in the eastern region, with Bedford Hospital NHS Trust having 45 refusals from 150 nurses who applied and the Luton & Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust getting just 15 refusals from 31 applicants.
A trust spokesperson said: “The NHS has a long history of both training and recruiting nurses from overseas – indeed they have made a valuable contribution to patient care over many years.
“Today is no different and with there being a national shortage of trained nurses NHS trusts like ourselves have looked to recruit nurses from both within Europe and further afield. At the same time, of course, we seek to attract nurses from within the UK.
“Thanks to the efforts of our recruitment team, we have a lower vacancy rate than many neighbouring NHS trusts – although we have more to do to fill our nursing vacancies going forward.”