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"Illogical immigration rules" maintained by government

Parliament stands by the decision to deport nurses who earn under £35,000, it was confirmed in a House of Lords debate today.

Lord Hunt asked for a response to the Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) report on the impact of immigration rules for foreign nurses in the NHS. In reply, Lord Prior of Brampton said that using foreign nurses was only a short-term solution and "it is very important that we develop enough nurses for our own healthcare system."

"It is worth pointing out that last year 3,500 nurses, largely from the Philippines, came from overseas to this country. In the short term that provides an escape — a way out, if you like — but it is not a permanent solution," Lord Prior of Brampton said.

Commenting on the government's response, Dr Peter Carter, RCN chief executive and general secretary said: “These illogical immigration rules for health care workers will cause chaos for the NHS and other care services who are already struggling to hire and retain skilled health professionals.

“The Government is right that training more home grown nursing staff is part of the long term solution but too few nurses are currently being trained and it will take time for them to come through the system. On this basis, steadfastly refusing to revisit nursing as a shortage occupation profession does nothing to improve things in the short term.

“There are thousands of overseas nurses in the UK who have contributed to the health of the nation and built lives here who will be worried and saddened by the Government's continuing position," he said.

The RCN has, for the second time, called for nursing to be added to the shortage occupation list and for government to reconsider the £35,000 salary threshold.