The UK nursing shortage and immigration

High on the news this morning is the announcement from the nursing profession that it needs to be allowed to recruit non- EU nursing staff to fill vacancies in the NHS. Currently there is a limit on this due to the desire to reduce immigration after very high numbers of net migration have been recorded over the last decade.

An interview with a representative of the NHS by Sarah Montague on the Today programme failed to delve into what seem to be some of the key questions and issues, such as:

  1. It became clear that if the NHS cannot recruit from outside the EU they will have to use ‘expensive agency staff’.
  2. This implies that there are perhaps many under-utilised trained nurses in the UK.
  3. If so this begs the question: Why are so many of our nurses choosing to work flexibly through agencies, who then seem to be able to hold the NHS to ransom with ridiculously high and unsustainable wage demands.
  4. Is it really ethical or sustainable to be poaching expensively trained nurses from  developing countries who are willing to work under cheaper and more traditional terms and conditions here in the UK.
  5. How then can we reform the profession to utilise the talents and skills of all the well trained nurses who are already in the UK.


To suggest a very brief sketch of this in terms of worldview development.

With reference to the figure below one partial perspective of this, obviously complex issue, is that it is an example of traditional infrastructure being dissolved by  confused post-modern worldview aspirations. Rather than trying to rebuild these traditional roles and systems within our own society we, rather sordidly, try to bail ourselves out by enticing people from traditional cultures with traditional worldviews to do the hard graft that maintains our first world comfort.


courtesy of ICE

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