NHS trusts warn ‘stringent’ immigration rules preventing hiring of nurses

NHS hospital chiefs have warned that “stringent” immigration rules are preventing them hiring nurses for the winter.

Ten heads of leading NHS trusts have signed a letter urging the Home Secretary to help address the shortage by allowing foreign nurses to work in the UK, according to the BBC.

Lobby group NHS Employers estimated 1,000 certificates of sponsorship for nurses outside the EU would be needed within the next six months and “large numbers” of applications had been rejected.

The organisation’s chief executive, Danny Mortimer, told BBC News: “These are nurses who’ve been recruited and could start work in the NHS shortly – but we can’t get them into the country.

“They are trained, registered nurses recruited from outside the EU – most typically from India and the Philippines.

“Their absence will be keenly felt. We are asking Theresa May to relieve the pressure on already stretched services as we head into the winter months.”

He added that the fact 10 trust chiefs from across England had signed the letter showed the “strength of concern across the NHS”.

Among the trusts backing the call were Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Newcastle Hospitals and University College London Hospitals.

NHS Employers wrote to immigration minister James Brokenshire in July but have yet to receive a reply, the BBC said.

It is not the first time immigration rules have been criticised by health leaders.

In June then chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Peter Carter warned the staffing shortage could be worsened by immigration rules which mean any non-European Economic Area residents must leave the country after six years if they are earning less than £35,000.

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