Your web browser is outdated and may be insecure

The RCN recommends using an updated browser such as Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome

‘Divisive’ rise in costs for overseas nursing staff will deepen NHS staffing crisis

6 Oct 2023

We’ve written to the Home Secretary to condemn the planned increase in costs for overseas health workers and nursing students coming to the UK.

Pat Cullen signing letter in office

We've written to the UK government to condemn its decision to increase visa fees for health and care workers.

In a letter to the Home Secretary Suella Braverman, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen raised serious concerns about the impact of rising fees on the ability of the UK to attract and retain desperately needed nursing staff.

Health and care visa application fees are set to rise by 15%. Overseas nursing students face a 35% increase in visa fees. Meanwhile, the cost to apply to stay in the country (indefinite leave to remain) is set to increase by 20% to £2,885. Following more than a decade of real-terms pay cuts for nursing staff, these costs may be unaffordable for many health care workers.

In the letter, Pat Cullen warns the government that, “we are concerned that these fee increases will make the UK a less attractive place to live and work for the nurses and other health professionals who make vital contributions to our health and care sector every day.”

While the UK needs to reduce its reliance on overseas workers in the long-term, the NHS is currently hugely reliant on staff recruited from overseas. Over half (53%) of registered nurses joining the Nursing and Midwifery Council register in the past year were educated internationally.

At a time when there are tens of thousands of nursing vacancies in the NHS and with even more gaps in social care, cutting the supply of internationally educated nursing staff will only add to the pressure on health and care services.

The letter continues: “Nursing staff and care workers, regardless of their country of origin, make a vital contribution to this country in both the care they provide and the taxes and National Insurance contributions they already pay.

“They deserve to be valued and recognised. Subjecting our much-needed internationally educated staff in the health and care sector to additional levies is not only unjust but divisive and short-sighted.” 


Page last updated - 05/03/2024