More than 80 foreign nurses denied work at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn due to immigration restrictions
- Credit: PA
New figures reveal thousands of nurses wanting to join hospitals were denied permission to work in the UK last year, despite healthcare providers struggling with chronic staffing shortages.
In the eastern region Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn (QEH) had the second-highest number of refusals between April and November last year, with 82 nurses blocked from working in the country.
There were 157 applicants.
When an organisation recruits a nurse from outside the European Economic Area they must apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship.
Until November last year, nurses were not on the government's shortage occupation list and as a result the number of certificates was limited.
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That meant 2,341 applications by hospital trusts for Certificate of Sponsorship were refused by the Migration Advisory Committee in the first half of this financial year.
Since November nursing has been temporarily placed on the shortage occupation list.
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The QEH was among the 24 hospital trusts with the highest number of nurses whose applications were refused.
The Royal College of Nursing, which obtained the figures from a Freedom of Information request, said figures for Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were much lower.
Karen Webb, the college's eastern region director, said: 'It is vital that healthcare organisations are able to recruit the right numbers of staff to provide safe levels of care.
'While we welcomed nursing being placed on the shortage occupation list in November, it is important that any future decisions consider the impact if healthcare providers are unable to recruit enough UK-trained nurses and are also denied the opportunity to bring in staff from other countries.'