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International nurses to be exempt from ‘unrealistic’ £30k visa salary requirement

Unions warned the “unrealistic” visa requirement would only worsen the NHS’s “severe shortage” of nurses

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International nurses and paramedics wanting to work in the UK are to be exempt from the £30,000 salary threshold.

The Home Office has confirmed today that international nurses and paramedics wanting to work in the UK are to be exempt from the £30,000 salary threshold required by Tier 2 visas.

Unions previously warned the Government that £30,000 minimum salary requirement for international nurses wanting to work in the UK was “unrealistic” and would only worsen the NHS’s “severe shortage” of nurses.

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Earlier today, figures published by NHS Improvement revealed that the total number of unfilled nursing vacancies has continued to rise year-on-year.

A two-year scheme, which will allow up to 20 nurses from Jamaica to come to the UK to gain vital experience in NHS hospitals as part of an exchange scheme, has also been announced.

The exemption is also being applied to other public sector roles such as teachers.

Commenting on the changes, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said: “This will help create more jobs across the country and ensure our economy continues to thrive” and “In addition to welcoming those who wish to contribute to our economy, we also recognise our duty to support the vulnerable.”

‘Recognising the value of nurses’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said: “On the same day we learn that the number of unfilled nurse jobs has risen year on year, the importance of this decision cannot be underestimated. For as long as the UK fails to train enough of our own nurses, it is vital we remain open and welcoming to our international colleagues.

“The Home Office have listened to our concerns and extended the minimum salary exemption for internationally recruited nurses until January 2021. Without this action, Ministers risked shutting the door on international nurses who are vital for keeping our health and care services running at a time when staffing shortages are already extensive.

“But with no clear indicators the workforce crisis is abating, and over 40,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS in England alone, the Government must now recognise the value of nurses and the care they give patients by developing a fully funded UK-wide workforce strategy, backed by legislation, to increase nursing numbers for safe and effective care.”

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Patient safety in danger unless nurse numbers increased, warns RCN

The college is encouraging people to speak out about the impact of England’s nurse shortage.

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There have only been an extra 9,894 nurses recruited to NHS hospitals since 2013.

The shortage of nursing staff in England is putting patient safety in danger, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warns today as it use the first World Patient Safety Day to launch a new campaign.

The campaign encourages the people to speak out about the potentially devastating impact of the nursing shortage.

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There are an estimated 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in England alone.

It calls for legislation to be brought forward in England to help address the nursing workforce crisis. Earlier this year, nurses and support workers in Scotland secured new legislation on safe staffing levels after a nurse staffing law was introduced in Wales in 2016.

There are not enough nurses.

A new analysis by the RCN shows that for every one extra nurse NHS acute Trusts in England have managed to recruit in the five years since 2013/14, there were 157 extra admissions to hospital as emergencies or for planned treatment.

Last year the number of extra admissions for every additional nurse taken on increased to 217.  The analysis shows that the extra 9,894 nurses recruited to NHS hospitals since 2013/14 is dwarfed by the additional 1,557,074 admissions over the same period.

Public carried out to mark the campaign launch reveals that 71 per cent of the public think there are not enough nurses to provide safe care to patients and 67 per cent of the public in England wrongly think the Government has a legal responsibility to ensure there are sufficient nursing staff.

The 2013 Francis Report on failings of care Stafford Hospital concluded that the main factor responsible was a significant shortage of nurses at the hospital.

Issuing a stark warning

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said: “Today we’re issuing a stark warning that patient safety is being endangered by nursing shortages.  Staffing shortfalls are never simply numbers on a spreadsheet – they affect real patients in real communities.

“We’re calling on the public in England to fight for nurses and sign our petition calling on the Westminster Government to invest in the future workforce and make clear who is accountable in law for safe patient care. 

“Our polling shows almost two-thirds of people already fear there aren’t enough nurses to provide safe care – and they want recruiting more nurses to be the top priority for any extra funding for the NHS in England. 

“Nurses are the single most trusted professional group in the whole country, with 96% of the public placing them at the top of a list of occupations including doctors, teachers, the police and scientists.  Nursing staff are asking for your support in calling time on this crisis.”

‘Too much pressure’.

Responding to the RCN’s campaign on safe and effective staffing for patient care; Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), said: “Every time we, or someone we love, needs care, we trust nurses and midwives with the right skills and knowledge to be there to meet our needs.

“The RCN analysis echoes some of the NMC’s own findings. Our survey of nurses and midwives leaving the register revealed that almost a third of respondents cited too much pressure leading to stress and/or poor mental health as a top reason for leaving. And our research with the public tells us they fear these most trusted professionals are held back by the pressures of today’s health and care system.

“You only have to look at some of the stories we are sharing in our Always Caring, Always Nursing campaign to see the difference these dedicated professionals can make in people’s lives.

“Additional resources to support nurses and midwives is a wise investment now and for the future.”

You can sign a petition to support the campaign. 

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‘NHS Passports’ will allow staff to ‘plug gaps’ in any hospital at short notice

A union has warned that patient care should not be compromised for convenience. 

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Resus NHS Hospital

Staff will be able to any hospital to plug gaps in staffing and improve patients’ care.

Healthcare staff in England will soon be able to move seamlessly between hospital sites in a bid to make it easier to take on new roles, plug gaps in staffing and improve patients’ care.

Following successful pilot projects, all hospitals in England are being urged to sign-up to passporting agreements, which will remove the need for inductions and other admin when staff move between NHS organisations.

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Clinicians working in hospitals that have these agreements will be able to freely move between any hospital to provide patient care.

The deployment of staff across a number of different NHS sites through passporting has already been trialed successfully at five hospitals across London.

Serious concerns.

Jeeves Wijesuriya, Chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) Junior Doctors Committee admitted the scheme may bring about some positive changes but warned that patient care should not be compromised for convenience.

They added; “it is important employers do not use these changes to redeploy staff to unknown areas outside of their training programme at short notice and without agreement – risking our patients safety, training and worsening morale through lack of autonomy.

“Furthermore, the BMA has serious concerns over plans to cut inductions as part of the scheme.

“Inductions are key for patient safety and play an essential part in ensuring that doctors are able to safely practice in new environments.”

Helping to build careers.

Prerana Issar, the Chief People Officer for NHS England and NHS Improvement said that the move will help to build the careers of clinicians.

She said; “This shows we are delivering on our Long Term Plan promises to improve flexible working for staff and ensuring the right clinician is available for patients.

“By making unwieldy paper staff schedules a thing of the past and introducing passporting, we are supporting our world-class staff so they can not only continue to give patients brilliant care, but further build their careers as they do so.”

NHS England also announced the nationwide introduction of e-rostering.

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