Proposals to increase the salary threshold for overseas nurses will further exacerbate the UK’s nursing shortage crisis, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said.
The RCN has raised its concerns in response to an immigration policy report released this week, which suggests that the current immigration policy for EU citizens should follow the existing immigration rules for non-EU migrant. Under the proposed ‘Skilled Work Visa’, the minimum salary threshold would increase to £36,700 for both EU and non-EU migrants.
The Centre of Social Justice report suggested that the Home Office should consider constructing a list of occupations designated ‘strategically important’ or ‘in high demand’, which would ensure nurses (who would not meet the proposed new salary requirements) could continue to migrate to the UK to work in a post-Brexit world.
However, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, still raised concerns that the salary threshold would prevent nurses and other health and care professionals from other countries being recruited to work in the UK.
‘International recruitment has always been a stopgap for long-term vacancies and, as the Government hasn’t invested in the long-term growth of the UK nursing workforce, the recruitment crisis will only worsen if nurses aren’t exempt,’ she said.
Currently, the NHS is reporting a shortage of more than 100,000 full time equivalent (FTE) staff, with the greatest challenge in nursing with 41,000 vacancies. Further, according to the King’s Fund Closing the Gap report, concerns about Brexit have created additional risks in the short to medium term, and the net inflow of nurses from the EU has turned to a net outflow.