The National Health Service is currently facing a massive shortage of workers and spending copious amounts on Agency Workers whom have been paid rates of up to £2,200 per shift in some parts of the country in an attempt to fill gaps. In just three months the NHS have a deficit of £1 billion.

After much persuasion, finally UK Visas and Immigration have lifted the restrictions on employing Nurses and placed them on the shortage occupation list. Whilst ballet dancers are classed as a shortage, surely our health system and ensuring the public’s welfare should be as important and high on the priority list. The Shortage Occupation List is an official register of roles which cannot be filled by UK residents.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said current staffing levels were too low in many areas. “At long last, the Government has realised just how much the NHS relies on its migrant nurses,” he said.

“By cutting the number of student nurse places, ministers created a serious recruitment crisis in the heath service. And that is why NHS trusts have been forced to recruit from outside the EU for the last two years.”

NHS England’s Chief Executive, Simon Stevens stated:

“However, most nurses I speak to struggle to understand why our immigration rules define ballet dancers as a shortage occupation but not nursing. And most hospitals tell me the idea that we would seriously consider deporting some of our most experienced and committed nurses solely because they’re not earning £35,000 clearly needs a rethink.”

Albeit adding Nurses to the Shortage Occupation List is a temporary measure, the Migration Advisory Committee will present additional evidence to the Government in February 2016, thereafter they will assess if Nurses should remain on the Shortage Occupation List.

The lack of nurses have deemed hospitals across the UK as unsafe and poses a threat to patients, this is something that needed to be put right and hopefully having nurses on the Shortage Occupation List will remedy the situation.

Below you will see the government requirements and thresholds for nurses on the Shortage Occupation List.

Click here to view table.

Anyone coming to the UK in a Tier 2 (General) visa can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after completing 5 years in the UK, providing they satisfy the eligibility criteria. One of the main points from April 2016 is that the salary threshold for anyone wanting to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain will be raised to £35,000 which means nurses in bands 3, 5, 6 and 7 will need to leave the UK after being present in the UK for 6 years. Does this mean that the UK will face another shortage of nurses again?

Simon Stevens said nurses should not be covered by rules under which workers from outside the EEA are deported if they are earning less than £35,000 after six years in the UK; among such workers set to be sent home by 2020 are 7,000 overseas nurses, the Royal College of Nursing says.

“Most hospitals tell me that the idea that we would seriously consider deporting some of our most experienced and committed nurses solely because they’re not earning £35,000 clearly needs a rethink,”

Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “At long last, the government has realised just how much the NHS relies on its migrant nurses.”

“Current staffing levels are too low in too many areas. Sending back thousands of qualified dedicated nurses overseas would have left our health service in a dire situation.”

“While this is good news, it is essential to the service that nurses remain on the shortage list for the foreseeable future.

“But concerns remain over the future of social care should migrant home care workers be forced to leave the UK.”

NHS employers have stated that they will need at least 1,000 Certificates of Sponsorship in the next six months for employing nurses to bring them over to the UK.

The National Health Service is crucial to the UK and it is vital that it is adequately staffed to ensure people are receiving immediate medical attention and not having to wait to be assessed, adding the nurses to the Shortage Occupation List was a wise move by UK Visas and Immigration and could possibly save thousands of lives.