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  • Author: Georgia Spiliopoulos, Stephen Timmons
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Asia Research Institute, University of Nottingham
  • Abstract: Non-British nurses working for the National Health Service (NHS) face a number of challenges, which must be addressed in the context of ongoing Brexit negotiations. Since the 2016 Referendum result to leave the European Union (EU), the number of EU nurses registering with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) plummeted in 2017 by 96% – from 1,304 EU nurses registering with the NMC in July 2016 to just 46 in April 2017 (Siddique, 2017). This drop in numbers is also linked with the number of EU nurses leaving the UK (Matthews-King, 2017). A recent NMC report (2019) published a 1% increase, for the first time in three years, in the number of new nurse registrants, for the period between April 2018 and March 2019. This increase translates into 6,000 nurses from the UK, EU and overseas. These numbers, while encouraging, reflect the changes in international recruitment from EU and non-EU countries, and importantly the impact of Brexit on the retention of both EU and non-EU nurses. This paper recommends measures to support the retention of these nurses.
  • Topic: Health, Health Care Policy, Brexit, Public Health
  • Political Geography: Britain, United Kingdom, Asia
  • Author: Georgia Spiliopoulos, Stephen Timmons
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Asia Research Institute, University of Nottingham
  • Abstract: The UK Referendum decision to leave the European Union in June 2016 exacerbated some of the long-standing challenges the National Health Service (NHS) has been facing in recruiting and retaining nursing staff. In 2018, it was estimated that one in eight posts was vacant, which translates into 36,000 nursing vacancies (King’s Fund, 2018). Arguably, these challenges have been present since the founding of the NHS in 1948. Pre-established initiatives recruiting overseas nurses to deal with acute staffing shortages during the war effort, mainly from the Commonwealth, were also adopted by the NHS. Hence, the Nurses’ Act of 1949 relaxed the criteria for the registration of overseas nurses set up by the General Nursing Council (Solano and Rafferty, 2007). Therefore, we can trace historical developments in recruiting non-UK nurses, which reflect changing state regulations over time, connected to particular political and financial factors, xenophobic rhetoric and also problems in retaining British nursing staff (Bach, 2007; Ball, 2004; Cangiano et al, 2009; Simpkin and Mossialos, 2017; Solano and Rafferty, 2007). In the 1950s, for example, significant numbers of overseas nurses entered the UK as trainees, while an even higher number of British nurses emigrated abroad, fuelling concerns over training of overseas nurses but also bringing to the forefront anxieties over race (Solano and Rafferty, 2007). An illustrative example of political will influencing recruitment of overseas nurses was seen in New Labour’s push for a ‘modernization agenda’ in the late 1990s and subsequently, a push for international recruitment (Deeming, 2004). However, aggressive recruitment initiatives targeting nursing staff from developing countries such as Zimbabwe, Kenya and Zambia, led to the introduction of the NHS ‘Code of Practice’ on ethical recruitment in 2001 (Deeming, 2004), with calls for overseas recruitment to focus mainly on pre-existing agreements with countries such as the Philippines and India (Buchan, 2006).
  • Topic: Health, Health Care Policy, Brexit, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: Britain, United Kingdom, Asia