Expat nurses in UK face prospect of being sent home

Published:  22 Jul at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, UK, Money, Euro, England
Increased budget cuts designed to further reduce the government budget deficit mean many foreign nurses in the UK may be sent home.

To separate long-term residents and short-term workers, UK laws state that expat workers are permitted to stay and work in the country for six years. However, by the time the six-year mark comes round, they must be able to show they are on a yearly salary of at least £35,000. If not, working visas can be taken away from them and they then have to return to their homeland.

In recent times the UK has benefitted from experienced, hard-working nurses arriving from outside the country to ply their trade in the British Isles. And although the rules are only applied to nurses from outside the European Union, those from countries such as the Philippines have done much to keep the National Health Service in a working state.

But unless the regulations are relaxed somewhat, a large number of these nurses will be forced to leave the country as their salaries will not come close to the £35,000 threshold. This means that highly experienced nurses will be removed from the nation’s hospitals and the quality of healthcare could decline.

The Royal College of Nursing has already voiced its concerns, saying that patient safety could be jeopardised. Furthermore, questions have been raised about the money spent on recruiting these nurses in the first place as, in all likelihood, even more funds will have to go towards finding nurses with the desired experience to replace the departing ones.

So if the nurses are to be allowed to stay, salaries would need to be raised or the relevant authorities would have to add nursing to the current exemption list. However, the Home Office has stated that it has been advised against adding nursing to the Shortage Occupation List, leaving the NHS with a potential problem on its hands.
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