LONDON: The UK government has included nursing as a profession in shortage occupation list. This means that the 30,000 overseas nurses, who faced the axe under new immigration rules, including thousands from India, would not be thrown out of UK.
Britain’s National Health Service had earlier announced that according to new rules that were set to come into practice, a nurse can stay in the UK only if she or he earns a minimum of £35,000 a year which is the salary of a senior nurse. This meant that majority of nurses would not reach this pay scale for the next six years and hence would have to pack up and leave Britain.
In a dramatic U-turn, the government has now announced temporary changes to restrictions on nurse recruitment from outside European Economic Area to ensure safe staffing levels across the NHS. The announcement however will not make India happy. The Union health ministry in Delhi was actually hoping to benefit from UK’s new immigration policy and attract returning nurses with jobs.
The ministry was contemplating recruiting these nurses on contractual basis under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) on a much higher salary than what their counterparts were getting in government hospitals. India has a shortage of 2.4 million nurses.
The new immigration policy in UK which intended to cap the number of migrants living in UK would have led to 7,000 overseas nurses being sent back to India by 2020. The latest U-turn by Britain gives India another reason to worry. Nurses working in Indian hospitals would now aim to get a job in UK, which is all set to engage nurses in a major recruiting drive around the world, mainly targeting India where nursing standards are very high.