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Ten-fold increase in nurse recruitment from "red list" countries

Press Release 09/06/2022

The UK is recruiting nurses from a third of the world’s most short-staffed countries, new analysis reveals.

New joiners to the UK nursing workforce include recruits from 14 countries on a “red list” of 47 that the UK Government insists should not be actively recruited from.

Figures from the nursing regulator show a ten-fold increase since the 2019 General Election in the number of nurses joining from countries currently identified as having the most severe workforce shortages.

International recruitment must be ethical and balanced with domestic investment, the College says.

The UK list mirrors the World Health Organization, which says these 47 countries face the most pressing health workforce shortages and have been identified as having serious workforce challenges and must not be targeted for systematic recruitment by NHS or independent employers.

The RCN stresses the contribution made by professionals from around the world to our health and care services and defends the rights of individuals to work in the UK.

The analysis comes weeks after the NMC confirmed almost half of all new joiners were from overseas in the most recent 12 months.

These increases have led to concerns that UK governments are becoming heavily reliant upon countries with critical workforce shortages to fill the tens of thousands of nursing vacancies across health and care services in the UK.

The RCN is calling on governments across the UK to invest in expanding the domestic workforce and to introduce bilateral agreements - with the involvement of national nursing associations – to ensure all international recruitment is mutually beneficial for these countries.

International recruitment must be transparent, dignified and ensure that employment of nursing staff in the UK is free from exploitation.

RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive, Pat Cullen, said: 

“Ministers are overly reliant on nurses from countries with critical workforce shortages. Meanwhile, their lack of investment in UK nursing staff – both today’s and those of the future – is deeply concerning.

“Our health and care workforce is proudly diverse. International recruitment must be ethical, beyond reproach and come at the same time as increased investment in education and domestic professionals.”

International Council of Nurses (ICN) Chief Executive Officer Howard Catton said:

“ICN is aware that active international recruitment of nurses from low and middle-income countries is increasing, driven by the post-COVID demand for nurses in wealthier countries. 

"Individual nurses who aspire to live and work overseas must have the freedom of movement to do so, but the countries that are driving the process need to be sure they are not exacerbating shortages in lower income countries and widening existing global inequalities.

"They can do this by educating more nurses and aiming for self-sufficiency in their domestic supply line, improving the retention of those they already have and by looking at how they can offset and compensate the costs of training nurses, which they are, in effect, currently exporting to less wealthy countries."

Ends  

Notes to Editors 

  • The Nursing and Midwifery Council publish their registration data report every six months. The register says how many nurses and midwives in the United Kingdom and nursing associates in England are currently able to practise. Follow the link here to the Council’s most recent data.
  • In 2021 the UK government significantly adjusted its approach to overseas recruitment by moving to the WHO Health Workforce Support & Safeguards List rather than maintaining its own more extensive list of countries not to recruit from.
  • WHO Guidance can be found here.
  • UK Guidance can be found here.

Number of new joiners to the UK NMC permanent register 2019-2022

 

Joiners one year to 2019

Joiners one year to 2020

Joiners one year to 2021

Joiners one year to 2022

Afghanistan

0

1

0

0

Bangladesh

1

0

0

1

Cameroon

5

6

11

17

Ethiopia

0

0

0

1

Gambia

1

1

8

12

Ghana

59

186

226

843

Lesotho

0

4

6

18

Malawi

2

3

2

7

Mauritius

5

6

4

9

Nepal

54

66

84

210

Niger

0

0

0

1

Nigeria

276

695

685

3010

Pakistan

6

18

28

112

Papua New Guinea

0

1

0

0

Sierra Leone

1

0

1

0

Tanzania

1

1

0

1

Uganda

6

6

4

30

Total

417

994

1059

4272

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is the voice of nursing across the UK and is the largest professional union of nursing staff in the world. The RCN promotes the interest of nurses and patients on a wide range of issues and helps shape healthcare policy by working closely with the UK Government and other national and international institutions, trade unions, professional bodies and voluntary organisations. 

For more information, contact the RCN press office at 020 7647 3633 or email mediateamhq@rcn.org.uk  

 

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