It has been announced that nurses working in the NHS who fail to earn £35,000 or more annually after 6 years of being in the UK will be deported, which the Guardian has claimed cost £20.19m. Keep in mind that an average nurses salary is unlikely to exceed £30,000, and the top mark still tends to be below that. The Telegraph previously reported that the NHS was spending a ‘huge’ sum of money on recruiting foreign nurses from un-EU countries whilst rejecting 2/3rds of UK applicants. This may seem to back up the UKIP style argument that foreign workers are ‘stealing’ British nationals jobs. However, this is not the case. It is not the case. From what the news is saying, the last coalition cut funding to train those born in the UK whilst ‘poaching’ nurses from other countries. If the government chose to spent this much money on employing foreign workers, how does it make sense to deport them?
If they want to decrease immigration, surely they need to put more money into training people within the UK. But training does not happen overnight, and it still doesn’t make any sense to deport trained staff because they were not born here. I just cannot see what these new measures are going to help. Even if all the non UK born nurses who leave were to be replaced by training those born in the UK within a few years, by 2020 we would still not have trained nearly enough nurses to replace the ones we sent away, and this does not address the fact that as it cost a lot to bring non EU nurses to the UK this new policy is basically just throwing money away. It won’t even stop the recruitment of non British born NHS workers, in fact it may well increase the need for them because if they send a large number of experiences nurses away,they may well find that there is now a shortage of nurses and so they must recruit new foreign workers who again will be deported after six years. And then what? Repeat the process. Forever? Even if we could in the future train enough UK born nurses, that does not help us now. Some places within the UK (Wales is a good example) have a real shortage of NHS workers now. They need nurses now, not in a few years time.
Nurses who were not born in the UK haven’t done anything wrong, and it will not help health, people or the NHS to remove them. This is especially true in parts of Wales where there is a serious shortage of trained medical staff and who urgently need more doctors and nurses and cannot afford to lose any, in the leaders debates a few months ago, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood defended immigration and used the example that the NHS in wales needs staff /now, and cannot wait for future UK born nurses to be trained. If the government also wants to increase GP appointments to 7 days a week, how can they fire a massive chunk of their staff? It’s mad. Surely if immigration were a problem it should be aimed at people who don’t work and use the system without giving anything back. But people who work for the NHS not only pay into the system, they help provide one of its main services. I read somewhere that NHS nurses aren’t on a list of ‘exempt’ professions for this new measure, but ballet dancers are. Now I love ballet, I’ve done ballet since I was 7 and ballet is both beautiful and really hard, but can you really say they ‘deserve’ to be here more than NHS nurses who care for the sick? I don’t think anyone should ‘deserve’ to be here, the world is large and amazing and people should be able to see it and move around as long as they don’t want to harm the place they have moved to. However, even if you do believe that non EU immigrants should only be here based on how ‘deserving’ they are, how do NHS workers not fit the criteria? Even if we could train enough nurses in time for 2020 (When the deportations will start according to my sources) I still don’t understand why we need to get rid of a load of the trained nurses we already have and spend more money on training new ones. In light of the Conservative cuts, I don’t believe they will increase spending on training nurses enough to accommodate the need that deporting current nurses will create. If you want to save money, don’t spend a load of it and then deport the people you spent it on. It just makes no sense at all.
We should invest more in training UK nurses, but that does not invalidate nurses who came here from overseas. They are here now, we have paid for them, and they are contributing to our society and economy in taxes and in working for the NHS and providing vital services all over the country. Keep the nurses we have and invest more in training for the future, but don’t cripple the NHS now for no reason. To boost the number of UK born nurses, you need to train them. Do not deport the nurses who are and will continue to be vital to the NHS.