10 / 9 / 2015 Midnight
NHS Employers has written to the Home Secretary Theresa May to raise concerns that current immigration rules are compromising patient safety, cost controls and leaving shortages of nurses and doctors at a crucial time.
The letter was drafted following feedback we received from employers in the NHS and highlights the problems that employers have been experiencing with the current shortage occupation list and the way in which NHS applications are assessed and prioritised for restricted certificates of sponsorship.
Shortage occupation list
The letter seeks a pragmatic solution which will enable the NHS to employ the clinical staff they have recruited from overseas to provide high quality care for patients and help employers to address agency costs. With NHS organisations, independent health and social care providers experiencing difficulties in recruiting trained nursing staff over the last three years, the letter calls for nursing to be added to the shortage occupation list.
Points allocation process
The use of salary as the single metric for determining skill, priority and value is placing the NHS at a disadvantage when being assessed against applications from other industries is also questioned by the letter. Highlighting that over the last three months many NHS organisations have experienced applications being rejected in large numbers, the letter calls for a review of the mechanism for the allocation of sponsorship certificates
Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers said:
“Hospitals strive constantly to deliver the same high standard of care to patients amid rising demands. Even with Government commitment to additional training places for nurses and a focus on retention, we need to employ staff from outside the EU to meet current demand for staff. Due to the high demand for immigration certificates in June and July, for example, all of the applications for nurses were rejected. Whilst there was some improvement in August, with 200 certificates being issued there remains significant numbers of outstanding applications for entry to the UK to take up nursing posts in our hospitals. If trusts are unable to employ these nurses it will impact on their ability to meet safe staffing levels and support the effective provision of services particularly in the winter months.
"Non-EU nurses are invaluable to the NHS. Whilst we are experiencing a mismatch between supply and demand we are asking that this is recognised and that nursing be placed on the shortage occupation list for the next two years.”
The full letter to the Home Secretary, which is signed and supported by many trusts across England and co-signatories include Sir Robert Naylor (UCLH), Sir Len Fenwick (Newcastle) and Sir Andrew Cash (Sheffield) is now available to download.
NHS Employers will be submitting evidence on behalf of the NHS to the review commissioned from the Migration Advisory Committee around Tier 2 of the points based immigration system.
We have also offered to meet with the Home Secretary to discuss in more detail the issues raised in the letter and to engage with the Government to help take forward the policy that can both meet the government’s commitment around migration and enable the NHS to operate efficiently. We will continue to keep you informed as this issue develops.