Healthcare employers must do more to support overseas recruits, the NMC has said, as new data shows that international recruitment has increased 135% in the last year.
In 2021-22, 23,367 internationally trained nurses and 76 midwives joined the NMC register for the first time. This is over double the 9,884 nurses who joined in 2020-21.
The NMC data also revealed that two thirds of international joiners came from India and Philippines alone. However, there has also been significant growth in recruitment from counties on the WHO ‘red list’, including Nigera, Ghana, Nepal, and Pakistan.
There is supposed to be no active recruitment from nations on the red list, although this does not stop international recruits from applying independently.
This year, 13% of internationally trained professionals were from Nigeria, with 2,998 joining. There were also 831 recruits from Ghana, and 210 from Nepal.
The NMC also identified that those nurses joining from abroad were more likely to be men and to be from ethnically diverse backgrounds. This is significant as recent NMC research found that employers disproportionately refer men and black people for fitness to practice.
Andrea Sutcliffe, NMC chief executive and registrar, said: ‘Internationally trained nursing and midwifery professionals working in the UK make a vital and welcome contribution to people’s health and wellbeing. It’s important they are fully valued and supported and we cannot take them for granted.
‘Working with employers and our other partners, we want to make sure internationally trained nurses and midwives are fully supported. Together we must create the most inclusive environment possible – one that supports international recruits to thrive not just survive.’
Most of the professionals the NMC spoke to for their report Ambitious for Change said they felt one or more of their diversity characteristics played a part in their referral from their employer and said an ‘insider/outsider’ culture left them feeling unsupported.
This comes as the Government recommits to a policy of high international recruitment. Yesterday, health and social care secretary Thérèse Coffey, speaking about overseas recruits, told The Telegraph that ‘I don’t mind if they are coming from abroad’.
NHSE has also committed to providing £7,000 of funding for each nurse recruited in 2022-23, more than double the £3,000 maximum currently offered to organisations.
Responding to the NMC’s new report, RCN general secretary and chief executive, Pat Cullen, said: ‘The over reliance on international nurse recruitment proves ministers have no grip on the nursing workforce crisis. The huge increase in overseas nurses joining the NMC register shows a focus on short-term fixes rather than long-term solutions.
‘It’s deeply concerning that four ‘red list’ countries appear amongst the top 20 most recruited from countries. This approach is unsustainable.’
Overseas recruits are also not evenly divided amongst fields of practice. In the last year, there was only one recruit with training in learning disabilities.
While 22,637 of this year’s recruits had training in adult care, only 176 were trained in children’s health.