NHS staff who are non-UK nationals at record high

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Health chiefs said the figures reflected how the NHS depends on its “talented international workforce” to stop it “buckling under pressures” such as rising demand and strike action, but warned overseas recruitment could not fill vacancies forever.

Of the 335,763 full-time equivalent (FTE) nurses and health visitors in England in September 2023 whose nationality was known, three in 10 (30 per cent, or 100,776) were non-UK nationals, according to analysis by the PA news agency.

That is up from around two in 10 (19.7 per cent) three years earlier, in September 2020, and is the highest proportion since current data began in 2009. The most common non-UK nationality is Indian, accounting for 10.1 per cent, followed by Filipino (7.7 per cent), Nigerian (2.5 per cent) and Irish (1.1 per cent).

There has been a similarly sharp rise in the proportion of hospital and community health service doctors who are non-UK nationals, which now stands at more than a third of the total (36.3 per cent of 136,265 staff), up from around three in 10 (30.1 per cent) in 2020 and just over a quarter (26.6 per cent) in 2016.

Indian was again the most common non-UK nationality among this group, accounting for eight per cent of all doctors, followed by Pakistani (3.7 per cent), Egyptian (2.9 per cent) and Nigerian (2 per cent).

Lucina Rolewicz, a researcher at the independent think tank The Nuffield Trust, said the NHS has become “increasingly reliant on overseas recruitment to fill staffing gaps”, with international nurses proving “pivotal” to the Government meeting its 2019 pledge to increase the number of NHS nurses in England by 50,000.

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