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“Real victory” for nurses on safe staffing levels

Nursing will be added to the government's list of shortage occupations on “an interim basis”.

This means that nurses from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) that apply for work in the UK will have their applications for nursing posts prioritised, in a bid to improve staffing levels. However, this is only a temporary measure, the government has said, as in February 2016 The Independent Migration Advisory Committee will review the change and present further evidence to the government.

In response, Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) branded this a “real victory” for nurses.

She said: “This reversal is a real victory for nurses, the health service and most of all patients. Since the RCN first raised this issue and lobbied for a change to the immigration rules, a consensus has formed across the health service that cutting the supply of overseas nurses risked patient care.”

Similarly, health secretary Jeremy Hunt commented: “The temporary changes announced today will ensure the NHS has the nurses it needs to deliver the highest standards of care without having to rely on rip-off staffing agencies that cost the taxpayer billions of pounds a year.”

Davies called for the government to now “extend this common sense approach to the issue of training and retaining more nurses in the long-term” and “significantly increasing student nurse training places so that patients in the UK are no longer at the mercy of global workforce trends.”