The heads of 10 leading trusts, along with the NHS Employers organisation, have written to the home secretary to say patients are being put at risk as the new immigration rules are preventing them from getting enough nurses on wards in time for winter
They argue operations might be cancelled unless nursing is listed as an occupation with official shortages, BBC reported. The Home Office said some available places actually remained unused.
NHS Employers believes that 1,000 certificates of sponsorship, allowing nurses from outside Europe to work here, will be needed in the next six months.
The trusts that signed the letter are:
- Sheffield Teaching Hospitals
- Hampshire Hospitals
- Newcastle Hospitals
- Heart of England
- University Hospitals of North Midlands
- Gloucestershire Hospitals
- University College London Hospitals (UCLH)
- The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital
- Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals
- East Cheshire
Hospital staff have also visited the Philippines twice this year to recruit 168 nurses – but have only been able to get sponsorship certificates for about a dozen of them so far.
A Home Office spokesman said: “NHS trusts have been given more than 1,400 Tier 2 certificates of sponsorship for nurses since April this year, but over 600 of the places allocated to them in April and May this year have been returned unused.
“The independent Migration Advisory Committee, which took evidence from a number of NHS trusts and representative bodies from across the UK, recommended against adding nurses to the Shortage Occupation List earlier this year.
“We will continue to monitor Tier 2 take-up, but have no plans to change the level of the annual limit of 20,700 places.”