TORY changes to immigration rules, will mean thousands of NHS nurses being driven out of the UK ‘causing chaos’, the RCN nurses’ union warned yesterday.
The NHS relies on the thousands of highly trained nurses from India, Africa, the Caribbean, the Philippines and many other countries all over the world, without which the NHS could not continue to operate.
RCN’s new research has revealed that the new Tory changes to immigration rules will ‘risk intensifying the severe shortage of nurses in the UK, compromising patient safety, as well as costing the health service millions’.
In a move which smacks of xenophobia, under the new rules, people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) must be earning £35,000 or more before they are allowed to stay in the UK after six years.
These rules will force many nurses to return to their home countries, leaving hospitals with nothing to show for the millions of pounds spent on recruiting them. The effects of the new rules will start being felt in 2017.
The RCN has calculated that up to 3,365 nurses currently working in the UK will potentially be affected and estimates that it will have cost the NHS £20.19 million to recruit them, money which will have been wasted if they are forced to leave the UK.
Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, said: ‘The immigration rules for health care workers will cause chaos for the NHS and other care services.
‘At a time when demand is increasing, the UK is perversely making it harder to employ staff from overseas. The NHS has spent millions hiring nurses from overseas in order to provide safe staffing levels. These rules will mean that money has just been thrown down the drain.’
Dr Carter continued: ‘The UK will be sending away nurses who have contributed to the health service for six years.
‘Losing their skills and knowledge and then having to start the cycle again and recruit to replace them is completely illogical.’
‘NHS trusts are being asked to provide safe staffing with both hands tied behind their backs. Without a change to these immigration rules the NHS will continue to pay millions of pounds to temporarily rent nurses from overseas.’