British nursing hopefuls are turned away as NHS recruits migrants, think-tank claims
- During 2020 pandemic, 23,000 UK applicants for nursing courses turned down
- Since 2010, more than half of 650,000 UK applicants were turned away
- 3 out of 10 nurses who joined the NHS since 2018 were from foreign countries
Hundreds of thousands of British nursing hopefuls have been rejected while the NHS has recruited from abroad, a report said yesterday.
During the pandemic last year, 23,000 UK applicants for nursing courses were turned down.
And since 2010, more than half (348,000) of 650,000 UK applicants were turned away, the Migration Watch UK think-tank report said.
Meanwhile, three out of ten nurses who joined the NHS since 2018 were from foreign countries.
The report said the NHS’s tendency to recruit migrants may be because they earn around a fifth less than nurses trained in Britain.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: ‘It is utterly unacceptable that so many UK-based nursing candidates have been rejected while the NHS has been encouraged from the top to recruit many thousands of nurses from overseas, partly to save costs.
Hundreds of thousands of British nursing hopefuls have been rejected while the NHS has recruited from abroad, a report said yesterday (file image)
‘Ministers’ fine words about investing in young British talent are looking ever-more hollow.’
The report said 20,800 applications to join nursing courses were rejected in 2018, a number that rose to 23,300 last year.
Application numbers rose from around 50,000 to 60,000 over the same period, largely because a £5,000 payment to student nurses was offered in 2019.
Over the same three years the number of non-UK nurses joining the NHS went up from 7,756 to 11,781, a level which amounted to 30.5 per cent of new nursing recruits.
During the pandemic last year, 23,000 UK applicants for nursing courses were turned down (file image)
A series of Government measures have made it easier for the NHS to recruit workers from abroad since 2016. The most recent, last month, added more than 100 countries to a list from which agencies can go looking to find overseas healthcare staff.
Among these are a number of less developed countries, including Zimbabwe and South Africa, which have severe shortages of medical workers. The recruitment has been heavily criticised by leading South African doctors.
The Migration Watch report said: ‘The move is immoral because it risks taking much-needed health staff from countries that have much greater needs than the UK even as this country fails to train up enough of its own domestic nurses.’