King's Lynn hospital set to welcome 80 new overseas nurses, after visa restrictions lifted
PUBLISHED: 17:06 16 October 2015 | UPDATED: 17:06 16 October 2015
Around 80 nurses from the Philippines and India will be heading for West Norfolk thanks to the lifting of restrictions on foreign staff.
The boss at west Norfolk’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital welcomed the news that restrictions on recruiting nurses from outside Europe have been temporarily lifted.
Nurses will be added to the government’s shortage occupation list, which means those from outside the European Economic Area will have their applications prioritised.
Figures suggest around 750 visa applications a month have been refused for non-European nurses during recent months, which has left staffing levels too low in many areas.
It comes after the government introduced a cap on NHS trusts hiring expensive agency staff.
Dorothy Hosein, chief executive at the King’s Lynn hospital, said: “I’m delighted as it was the biggest worry for me.
“We want to bring in 80 nurses from outside the European Union. We have already recruited them from the Philippines and India but they could not come, because they did not have visas.”
The hospital has already started a campaign to recruit more nurses locally by promoting the beautiful Norfolk coastline and quality of life, but it relies heavily on overseas nurses.
There will be a time lag before the nurses can arrive, with applications set to be processed within 70 days.
The move also means that non-EU nurses earning less than £35,000 a year, who have been in the UK for six years, will not have to leave the country from next April.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham welcomed the announcement, and said: “I am very pleased indeed that Home Office Ministers have been able to respond so quickly to what myself and other MPs raised in the House last Tuesday. This will now mean that the QEH and other hospitals in the region will be able to avoid spending vast amounts of money on agency workers.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The temporary changes will ensure the NHS has the nurses it needs to deliver the highest standards of care without having to rely on rip-off staffing agencies that cost the taxpayer billions of pounds a year.”
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “At long last, the government has realised just how much the NHS relies on its migrant nurses.
“By cutting the number of student nurse places, ministers created a serious recruitment crisis in the health service. And that is why NHS trusts have been forced to recruit from outside the European Union for the last two years.”
Darren Barber, Unison secretary at the QEH, said he supported the hospital’s position on recruitment and staff development.