The National Health Service of England is looking to hire 5,500 more nurses from countries like India and Philippines to make up for the shortage in the medical staff in the country.
The NHS is struggling to plug in the gap for more nurses and has turned towards India to solve the crisis. “Indian nurses have been brought to England to work for a set time,” Ian Cumming, the chief executive of Health Education England, said, the Times reported.
Cumming has informed the Commons Health Committee that a pilot scheme — “earn, learn and return” — had been started at Harrogate in North Yorkshire. “We are currently aiming to bring somewhere in the region of 5,500 nurses into the country internationally on an ethically-based ‘earn, learn and return’ program,” he said.
Since an increasing number of UK graduates are moving away from joining the healthcare services industry, the number of nurses working in the European Union and Britain is on a decline.
“Plans are ethically based, as nurses from overseas would receive training in the United Kingdom, and given placements on the basis that they would return to their home countries with new skills,” Cummings said, adding that the first group had arrived from India, while a total of 500 nurses were expected to join by March.
Meanwhile, patients’ groups have expressed concern regarding the new plans by NHS. They feel that these are desperate measures, and long-time actions need to be planned to fill in the shortage of nurses.
“This kind of exercises are a desperate short-term measure, which can result in language difficulties, and nurses having to get familiar with new systems, when we should be making longer-term plans, and training up enough nurses in this country,” Joyce Robins from Patient Concern was quoted as saying by the Telegraph.
Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, said that measures like a more professional pay structure were needed for all of the one million workers in England. The government does not plan to cut down on their pay bill, and plans on continuing the higher rate for work on weekend. Healthcare workers today are paid up to 60 per cent more for weekend shifts.
The NHS had earlier launched a drive to employ 2,000 general medical practitioners from India over the next three years.