The number of foreign nurses joining the NHS has plummeted, according to latest figures.
Recruitment specialist Randstad highlighted the NHS recruitment drop which has seen EU nurses applying to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) fall by 96%.
The fall has been blamed on poor working conditions, including long hours and inadequate pay, as well as the introduction of tough new language tests for foreign nursing staff.
According to Randstad, changes to the language test, which have raised the standard of English required from “working” to “academic”, have had a huge impact on the numbers of nurses coming to work in the UK.
It’s possible this new test will have a bigger impact than Brexit on overseas nursing recruitment. Randstad’s research has shown there is a chronic shortage of care staff in the UK and this latest finding will only exacerbate the situation.
The most recent figures released by the NMC showed last July 1304 EU nurses came to the UK to work but in April this figure had dropped to just 46.
Industry experts have blamed the drop in recruits on tough new criteria for the International English Language Test that all foreign nursing staff must pass if they want to work in the NHS.
With the standard now set higher than the rest of the world, staff have accused the tests of being too difficult and costly and said they take too long to complete. There has been anecdotal evidence of English speaking nurses failing the exams or simply running out of time to pass them before their visas expire.
There are around 134,00 foreign nurses and care professionals working in the UK which equates to around 12% of the entire NHS staff. Of this number, around 60,000 are EU nationals. Almost 10% of doctors and around 5% of therapeutic, scientific and technical staff come from the EU.
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