Minimum salary threshold for foreign workers would only worsen nursing shortages

Patients are already concerned that there are not enough nurses to care for them.

Matt Bodell
13 August 2019
Hospital Admissions Unit

The £38,000 salary threshold would prevent nurses from being recruited to work here.

A minimum salary threshold for workers wanting to relocate to the UK would only harm the recruitment of healthcare professionals, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.

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The Centre for Social Justice, co-founded by former Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, is recommending the government increase the threshold in a bid to restore “integrity” to Britain’s immigration system.

With the start salary of both nurses and junior doctors being significant below this threshold alongside more than 100,000 vacancies throughout the NHS in England, ministers would need to ensure clarify health workers would be exempt from the proposed regulations.

A spokesperson for London Mayor Sadique Khan said: “Far from raising the minimum salary threshold, the Mayor believes the government should instead be lowering it to £21,000 and welcoming the skilled migration that London, and the rest of the country, will desperately need post-Brexit.”

‘Cumbersome and bureaucratic’.

Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing says; “Such a high salary threshold would prevent nurses and other health and care professionals from other countries being recruited to work here.

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International recruitment has always been a stopgap for long term vacancies and, as the Government hasn’t invested in the long term growth of the UK nursing workforce, the recruitment crisis will only worsen if nurses aren’t exempt.

“Even if the NHS is exempt, this change could be a barrier to ensuring overall workforce supply for the wider health and care sector, which also suffers high levels of staff shortages.

“The previous Home Secretary said he wanted to streamline the immigration process for highly skilled workers. The current immigration system, nurses tell us, is cumbersome and bureaucratic. It should be easier for immigrants and their employers to apply.

“Immigration reform is a complicated issue, especially with the current Brexit uncertainty, but patients are concerned that there are not enough nurses to care for them.

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“If any future immigration system is to earn peoples’ trust, it must value the work of international nurses and allow them to keep working here, alongside much-needed investment in the UK workforce.”

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