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Almost all nurses from abroad [print version]

Striking nurses picketing University College Hospital, London, January 2023. Photo Workers.

Ninety-three per cent of the 51,245 nurses who have joined the NHS in the past four years have been recruited from overseas. This startling fact was revealed by NHS England’s chief nurse on 7 December.

Earlier in the same week ministers were boasting that they had met their 2019 election promise on nurse recruitment six months early. When the target was set there was an acknowledgment that international recruitment might make up about a quarter of the total, but no one imagined that it would be over 90 per cent.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has also reported that a growing number of the international nurses are from “red list” countries, where active recruitment is or should be prohibited by the British government’s code of practice. This includes significant rises in joiners from Ghana and Zambia and a steadily high number of joiners from Nigeria.

Given that the International Council of Nurses is reporting nurse shortages across the globe, any international recruitment – red list or not – is having an adverse impact on another country’s health system.    

• A longer version of this article is on the web at www.cpbml.org.uk