Professor Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, responding to the Immigration White Paper, said:
“When the starting salary for a nurse is £23,000, a minimum salary threshold above that for international nursing staff won’t work. If the Government eventually decides it 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 when staffing shortages are already rife.
“However, removing the cap on highly skilled workers from abroad is welcome. 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.”