UK: Government called on to ensure nurses are not recruited from developing countries


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from royal college of nursing (rcn):

government called on to ensure nurses are not recruited from developing countries

17 jul 02

the royal college of nursing has written to health secretary, alan milburn mp, asking him to provide a full list of developing countries from which the nhs should not recruit nurses. this follows the health secretary¡¦s statement at rcn congress in april this year in which he said that the nhs "would not actively recruit from developing countries". new research published today shows that almost half of new nurses registering the uk are from overseas and around 90% of these are from countries outside of the eu. the issue of international recruitment has moved from a short term solution to shortages to a long term one. the rcn is concerned that the problem of domestic shortages shouldn't be solved at the expense of developing countries.

published today are the rcn's good practice guidelines for health care employers and rcn negotiators to provide information to healthcare employers and rcn negotiators on ensuring both ethical recruitment and employment of internationally recruited nurses.

also published today is international recruitment of nurses: uk case study. this is part of a larger research project looking at international nurse mobility led by professor james buchan, queen margaret university college, edinburgh. the work was commissioned by the world health organisation, the international council of nurses and the rcn.

a growing global nurse shortage, increasing competition for nurses from the united states and an ageing workforce are set to keep the pressure on recruiters. international nurse recruitment will have to be more than a short term solution to ensure patient care, warns the rcn.

dr beverly malone, general secretary, royal college of nursing said:

*nursing is a global profession and the international mobility of nurses is not new. however, patient care in one country mustn't be at the expense of patients elsewhere.

*this research shows that we are going to be reliant on international recruitment for a long time to come. we must ensure that recruitment is done responsibly and that nurses who come to the uk have a good experience of working and living here.

*only by boosting pay and working conditions for all our nurses can we safeguard patient care in the long term.¨

key findings of the international recruitment of nurses: uk case study, research led by professor buchan at queen margaret university college, edinburgh.

* targets set by government for increases in nursing staff coupled with the ageing uk nursing workforce (approximately a quarter will be eligible to retire in the next 5-10 years) are likely to mean that the uk, and particularly england, will continue to be active in recruiting nurses from overseas.

* the republic of ireland and australia are now major destinations for uk registered nurses. however, a predicted need to recruit one million nurses in the us over the next eight years could have a major impact on the outflow of nurses from the uk.

*there has been a fivefold increase in the number of nurses registering to come to the uk from overseas since the early 1990s. for 2001/2 almost half (approximately15,000) of all new nurses entering the uk register were from overseas and approximately 90% of these were non eu entrants.

* of the 30,000 plus overseas nurses who have registered in the uk in the last three years the majority have come from the philippines, south africa and australia. there have also been increases from countries such as nigeria, ghana, india and zimbabwe.

* the eu has reduced in significance as a source of nurses entering the uk from between 25-33% of overseas entrants in the mid 1990s to 13% by 2000/01. this is forecast to fall further. language differences appear to be a key factor.

the rcn's good practice guidelines for health care employers and rcn negotiators provides guidance on:

* immigration and work permits

* how to ensure quality control when working with commercial recruitment agencies for example through checking references from other clients, ensuring no charges are made to the nurse applicant and ensuring agency staff have received appropriate training on equal opportunities issues

* best practice in job-offers and employment contracts to ensure lawful, equal and fair treatment of internationally recruited nurses

*best practice in occupational health screening

*h how to support internationally recruited nurses in their professional and career development

dr beverly malone said: ¡"while there are many excellent employers we also know of instances where nurses recruited from overseas have been exploited through inadequate pay and working conditions or by having to pay expensive fees to agencies to come and work here. these guidelines are an important step towards ending these practices. we need to see nurse recruiters in the nhs and the independent sector adopting these guidelines."

notes for editors:

1. the nhs plan target of extra 20,000 nurses was met earlier this year. new government targets are for an extra 35,000 nurses by 2008.

2. recruiters include a range of independent sector employers and, in the nhs, include individual employers and through government to government agreements.

3. government to government agreements are in place with spain, philippines and india and others are being sought. these aim to provide agreement with the overseas government about numbers of nurses to be recruited. they provide a systematic recruitment process which safeguards individual nurses and streamlines effective deployment of nurses, matching individuals skills and experience with appropriate clinical setting.

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