Importing overseas nurses hides 'gaping wound' within NHS, warns nursing chief

18 May 2022, 15:45 | Updated: 18 May 2022, 16:59

By Tim Dodd

The government is not improving "domestic supply of nurses" and is instead relying on the "short sighted" recruitment of overseas nurses, argues the Royal College of Nursing's Deputy Director of Nursing Lisa Elliott.

It comes as new figures show more than 27,000 nurses and midwives quit the NHS last year, with many blaming retirement, personal circumstances, or "too much pressure" in the job.

While the figures suggest an overall increase in the number of staff - with some 758,300 now registered to work in Britain - concerns have been raised about the rising number of people leaving the register.

A total of 27,133 people left the NMC register in 2021/22 - 13% more than the year before.

Read more: Russia writes chilling messages on bombs set for Mariupol after Eurovision plea for help

Speaking to Shelagh Fogarty, Ms Elliott said: "This is a huge problem... We're seeing more nurses now leaving the profession, and that is hugely worrying as we simply cannot afford to lose nurses.

"At the moment, we're looking at tens of thousands of nurse vacancies across health and social care. And so what that basically means, is you've got nurses on wards out there looking after patients who are much more stretched than they ever have been before.

"How long do we expect nurses to be able to work under this level of pressure?"

Ms Elliott said that overseas nurses were welcomed but that such recruitment is "short sighted, it's a sticking plaster over a gaping wound".

"What we're not doing is actually improving our domestic supply of nurses. We're not training enough nurses to actually keep up with demand and keep up with the vacancies that we have," she said.

Concerns have been raised about the UK's overreliance on overseas nurses and midwives after new figures suggest that a significant number of new workers come from abroad.

Almost half (48%) of the 48,436 people who joined the nursing and midwifery workforce in the last year have come from different countries, with the vast majority (66%) coming from India and the Philippines.

Ms Elliott continued: "So although we're hearing from government, that they've recruited more, they're recruiting more nurses than they ever have done before, unfortunately what we're seeing is more nurses leaving, and we're not even actually making a dent in the tens of thousands of vacancies that we have.

"We have 40,000 nurse vacancies in the NHS in England alone."

Read more: Russia 'may execute captured Ukrainian PoWs', Armed Forces minister warns

More Shelagh Fogarty News

See more More Shelagh Fogarty News

'Mick Lynch is inspirational': Frustrated NHS doctor says she'd strike if given the chance

'Mick Lynch is inspirational': Frustrated NHS doctor says she'd strike if given the chance

Child abuse scandal: Mother of victim reveals 'despicable' police response

'I begged for help': Mother of child abuse victim reveals 'despicable' police failings

'Panadol's my best friend': Caller says he's hired EU staff to avoid Brexit 'headache'

'Panadol's my best friend': Caller says he's hired EU staff to avoid Brexit 'headache'

Shelagh Fogarty caller 'ashamed' to say he voted for Brexit

'I just feel so much regret': Shelagh Fogarty caller 'ashamed' to say he voted for Brexit

James O'Brien blasts Ministers for boosting city fat cats' pay 'to show benefits of Brexit'

James O'Brien blasts Ministers for boosting city fat cats' pay 'to show benefits of Brexit'

Veteran journalist demands answers after Carrie Johnson story pulled

Veteran journalist demands answers after Carrie Johnson story pulled

Ex-England gymnast speaks out about abuse suffered from coach

Ex-England gymnast speaks out about abuse suffered from coach

UK's farmland being sacrificed to house 'illegal' migrants, caller fumes

UK's farmland being sacrificed to house 'illegal' migrants, caller fumes

Shelagh Fogarty warns of Grenfell fire and Hillsborough response 'parallels'

'Real parallels with Hillsborough': Shelagh Fogarty on Grenfell handling

Shelagh Fogarty clashes with caller who defends Rebel Wilson's 'outing'

Shelagh Fogarty clashes with caller who defends Rebel Wilson's 'outing'

Cigarettes could become green or warn of minutes of life lost, says smoking review leader

Cigarettes could become green or warn of minutes of life lost, says smoking review leader

Railway worker opens up to Shelagh Fogarty about plan to strike amid cost of living struggle

Railway worker opens up about plan to strike amid cost of living struggle

England legend Luther Blissett says Gareth Southgate 'wrong' on racial abuse

Ex-England star Luther Blissett says Gareth Southgate 'wrong' on racial abuse

Shelagh Fogarty argues Gareth Southgate shouldn't let racism concern influence penalty picks

Shelagh Fogarty argues Southgate shouldn't let racism concern influence penalty picks

'I'd have been tempted to boo': Shelagh Fogarty compares Jubilee-booing of Boris to former politicians

'I'd have been tempted': Shelagh Fogarty compares booing of Boris to ex-politicians

Andrew Marr: We are all Elizabethans, that's who we are

Andrew Marr: We are all Elizabethans