England’s CNO says international recruitment of NHS staff vital part of health service

England’s CNO says international recruitment of NHS staff vital part of health service

The chief nursing officer for England, Ruth May, has said that the combination of international recruitment and domestically trained medics have “helped to make the NHS the success that it is today”.

Ruth’s comment was made to mark Windrush Day, the anniversary of the Empire Windrush ship docking in Essex in 1948 bringing Caribbean migrants to work in the UK after the Second World War.

It came after reports claimed Baroness Dido Harding would make ending the reliance on overseas workers in the NHS a key part of her pitch to replace Sir Simon Stevens.

England’s chief nurse stated that since it was founded in 1948, the NHS and its patients “have benefitted from the skills of health and care professionals drawn from more than 200 nationalities.   International recruitment has always been, and should continue to be, a vital part of the NHS, starting with some of the hundreds of passengers of the HMT Empire Windrush coming to work for the newly created NHS followed by successive generations of nurses, midwives, doctors and health professionals from all over the world, who have each made an important contribution to the NHS workforce.”

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the NHS had around 40,000 nursing vacancies in Britain. NHS England has provided millions in helping to bring more nurses and midwives to the UK from countries like the Philippines and India.

Furthermore, an increase in the number of training places in the UK means less domestic candidates should be turned away each year.

“Bringing in the sharpest talent from abroad should go hand in hand with continuing to train up the best and brightest at home – which is why we’ll carry on a drive for global recruitment while also welcoming a record-breaking number of student nurses this year” the chief nurse added.

“The past year of Covid has seen colleagues from all backgrounds go the extra mile to provide care for all patients who need it, and the pandemic has offered a stark reminder that the NHS is at its best when our workforce reflects our patients.”

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