Hospitals turn to Asia for recruitment amid warnings that Brexit vote has widened nurse shortage
Royal Free says EU referendum has led to some nurses 'deciding not to move to the UK after all'
15 June, 2017 — By Tom Foot
The Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead
HOSPITALS have hired dozens of nurses from Asia after a massive drop in applications from Europe following the “Brexit” vote.
A team of Whittington bosses flew out to the Philippines on a head-hunting mission earlier this year, hiring 60 new staff who have already begun work in the Highgate hospital.
Royal Free staff have also just got back from a “recruitment campaign in India”, hiring 57 nurses who are due to start at the Hampstead hospital this summer. There are serious nursing staff shortages across the country this year with new figures showing applications from Europe have plunged 96 per cent since the result of the EU referendum last year.
Whittington chief executive Simon Pleydell said: “We were pleased to recruit 60 nurses from the Philippines last month. We will be continuing to implement our overall recruitment strategy to ensure our workforce plans meet the needs of our services to enable us to continue providing high quality and safe care for our patients.”
Six years ago, hospitals significantly reduced nursing numbers during austerity cutbacks. But after a series of high-profile cases of patient neglect, including the Mid Staffs scandal, the government ordered NHS boards to increase the number of nurses. To fill the gap, more EU nurses were hired. Each foreign nurse costs around £3,000 to settle them in. Nursing staff shortages also mean crucial finances are spent on bringing in more expensive agency staff. S
hirley Franklin, from Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition, said: “The cap on nursing pay is the issue here. There are plenty of people who want to be nurses.”
The Royal Free spent more than £13million on agency nursing staff last year and last month the Hampstead NHS Trust’s director of nursing, Deborah Sanders, reported “a recruitment campaign in India had resulted in 57 job offers being made: 20 to intensive treatment unit nurses, seven for theatre nurses and the remainder for general nurses”.
In a board report, she added: “Brexit was starting to have some impact with some nurses deciding not to move to the UK after all. Few EU nurses had left the Trust to date, but this was felt likely to change in future.”