Home Secretary Sajid David is reviewing plans for a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for migrant workers outlined in the Government’s immigration white paper, after fears were raised about the impact on UK sectors, including the NHS.
With the starting salary for nurses currently around £23,000, a salary threshold above this could prevent nurses from other countries being recruited into the NHS, worsening the staffing crisis.
Acting RCN Chief Executive Dame Donna Kinnair said: “If the Government eventually decides the threshold should be set at £30,000 then future nurses, on nationally agreed pay scales, must be exempt. Without that, the Government risks shutting the door on international nurses that help keep our health services running.”
The Home Secretary’s long-awaited white paper also contained some brighter news for nursing, however. The paper promises to remove a cap on the number of highly skilled workers allowed into the UK and to streamline the immigration process, reducing the time it takes to start work.
“Removing the cap on highly skilled workers from abroad is welcome,” said Donna. “Limiting their numbers would leave employers unable to recruit the highly skilled nurses they need to address nursing shortages.
“Nurses tell us the current immigration system makes applying to work in the UK cumbersome and bureaucratic and the RCN welcomes the commitment to streamline the immigration process to make it easier for them and employers to apply. This and removal of the cap are even more important given the Government intends to make all working migrants, EU and international, use this system in future.
“Immigration reform is a complicated issue but patients will be more concerned by the lack of nurses available to care for them. Our future immigration system must value the work of international nurses and allow them to continue to work here.”