MP warns immigration cap would hit nurse numbers and finances at King’s Lynn hospital
- Credit: PA
Hospitals like the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn will be running up debts beyond their control if new rules which would see lower-earning non-EU workers deported were brought into force, a Norfolk MP has warned.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham warned that the hospital's escalating agency nursing bill, combined the with the struggle to recruit local staff, meant that it had to look further afield for staff in a debate on the Immigration Bill in the House of Commons.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital was placed in special measures in November 2013 after major concerns were raised in four areas, including staffing not being at the required level.
It has launched a recruitment drive, which has included employing nurses from Portugal, to meet its target of one nurse to eight patients during the day and a one-to-11 at night.
This week it emerged that the hospital was using a picture of the tide coming in at Brancaster, with the strapline Ward to Waves in 25 Minutes, to tempt nurses to the area.
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Mr Bellingham said that while the hospital had made every effort to recruit local nurses, a recent drive had only seen one local join the hospital.
'What they have done in the past is recruit a significant number of EU nurses from Portugal or Spain, this pool of talent is slowly diminishing. They have to look further afield to Indian and the Philippines where there is a ready supply of nurses who speak very good English.'
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He said that while he wanted to see local nurses recruited it was 'of no consolation to a hospital in Norfolk that needs to recruit 90 nurses over the next few months to avoid penal payments to agencies.'
He said: 'This is a matter that minister must deal with. 'There is a long lead in time. You can't suddenly train nurses.'
He said that while health ministers needed to address the problem, he also wanted an update from the Migration Advisory Committee which was looking at the issue.
'If it is not looked at, hospitals will be running up debts beyond their control,' he added.
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