In recent years there has been a significant increase in the recruitment of international nurses and healthcare professionals relocating to work in the UK healthcare system. This has been driven by a range of factors, including the UK's ageing population, which has put increased pressure on healthcare services, as well as a shortage of skilled healthcare workers in certain areas.
According to data from the Nuffield Trust for the UK as a whole, the number of newly registered nurses from the EEA has plummeted from 9,389 in 2016 to 663 in 2022, though the reverse pattern is seen for those joining the register from outside the EEA – showing an increase of more than 22,000 over the same period. Just since 2020, the number of non-EEA nurse joiners has increased by over 13,000.
Other factors driving the increase in international nurses and healthcare professionals in the UK may include:
The UK has an aging population, which has led to an increased demand for healthcare services. This demand has not been met by the domestic workforce, leading to a need for more healthcare professionals from overseas.
There are certain specialties within healthcare, such as critical care and mental health, where there are skill shortages in the UK. To fill these gaps, healthcare employers have looked abroad for qualified professionals.
The UK government and healthcare employers have actively recruited healthcare professionals from overseas to meet the growing demand for healthcare services. They have targeted countries where there are surplus healthcare workers, such as the Philippines, India, and Nigeria.
Many healthcare professionals from overseas speak English, which is the main language of communication in the UK. This makes it easier for them to integrate into the UK healthcare system and communicate with patients and colleagues.
The salaries for healthcare professionals in the UK are relatively high compared to some other countries. This makes the UK an attractive destination for healthcare workers seeking better pay and career opportunities.
What steps can healthcare employers take to cater for the needs of an increased international workforce?
Provide cultural awareness training
International healthcare workers may come from different cultural backgrounds with unique values and norms. Employers can provide cultural awareness training to help all employees understand and respect these differences, which can lead to improved communication, collaboration, and teamwork.
Offer language support
Language barriers can be a significant obstacle for international healthcare workers. Employers can offer language support such as language classes, translation services, or interpreters to help these workers effectively communicate with patients and colleagues.
Provide information on local resources
International healthcare workers may face challenges in navigating the local healthcare system, finding housing, or accessing other resources. Employers can provide information on local resources to help these workers settle into their new community and address any practical issues they may encounter.
Develop a support network
Being far away from home and family can be difficult for international healthcare workers. Employers can develop a support network by connecting these workers with other international employees, providing access to counselling services, or offering employee assistance programs.
Address visa and immigration issues
International healthcare workers may face visa and immigration issues that can be confusing and stressful. Employers can provide resources and support to help these workers navigate the visa and immigration process, and ensure they are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
By taking these steps, healthcare employers can create a welcoming and supportive environment for international healthcare workers, which can improve retention rates, job satisfaction, and patient care.
How NursingjobsUK can help employers
We will work closely with our clients in delivering a structured relocation and pastoral support programme to the work seeker and their immediate family in order to reduce any uncertainty and improve retention rates.
We are an awarded supplier for International Recruitment of Clinical healthcare Professionals for NHS Procurement in Partnership and Crown Commercial Service. Delivering time-bound international healthcare recruitment we guarantee retention of placements for up to one year, with a 100% free replacement if the staff member leaves employment within a year. We are listed on the NHS Employers list of ethical recruiters that operate in accordance with the revised code of practice.
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