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Published 15 April 2016
After the temporary measure of adding nurses to the shortage occupation list on 15 October 2015, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), in a report published on 24 March 2016, has reluctantly recommended that nurses remain on the shortage occupation list.
It is anticipated that nurses will now remain on the shortage occupation list for the next three years whilst the UK market trains enough nurses to meet the shortfall in staffing, although MAC indicated that they would review the position again in two to three years time.
MAC identified that the shortage of nurses was attributable to changes in health care, the increasing numbers of older people, changes to the role of nurses, changes to staffing guidelines and the pressure on wages from falling budgets, all of which posed significant challenges to workforce planning, particularly in the independent sector.
Whilst this is good news for the health sector and allows staffing pressures to continue to be relieved via overseas recruitment, there are some notable concerns raised in the MAC report.
Should the government follow the MAC recommendations of an annual cap on the number of nurses who can be allocated a certificate of sponsorship and also enforce the resident labour market in relation to nurses, this would still limit the number of nurses posts that can be recruited for candidates from outside the EU. Continued nursing shortages may therefore be inevitable.
The report should be read with caution and we await the Government's decision on whether it implements the recommendations. It is clear that MAC view the long term solution as recruiting and retaining staff from the UK market by providing sufficient incentive and opportunity. In the meantime, health sector employers should ensure that workforce planning maximises all recruitment options.
Should you have any questions, or require advice on the options for recruiting nurses overseas, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Business Immigration Team.