All healthcare occupations should be wiped off a list of roles the Home Office says can be filled quickly by people from overseas, according to NHS Employers.

The organisation wants nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals to be removed from the shortage occupation list, which allows NHS organisations to employ staff from abroad without advertising the post in this country first.

The list, first produced in 2001, includes all salaried GPs, dentists, hospital consultants in 50 specialties, midwives and nurses at Agenda for Change bands seven and eight.

NHS Employers says there is now no need to employ staff from abroad, following the increase in home-grown healthcare staff, but the Royal College of Nursing said the move was 'wrong and muddle headed'.

RCN head of employment relations Josie Irwin said: 'There remains an underlying shortage which, in the short-term, will result in the difficulties that led to the huge recruitment of overseas nurses four or five years ago if nurses are removed from this list.'

The British Medical Association said that while there had been an expansion in doctor training in recent years, 'that doesn't necessarily mean there are more doctors than needed'.

But Foluke Ajayi, head of NHS Careers, part of NHS Employers, said the need to recruit staff from abroad had disappeared due to workforce expansion. 'Our feeling is that the current supply in the NHS is adequate in the main part and it begs the question why we should have quite a long list of these occupations,' she said. 'The shortages in the numbers we have had over the last five years or so have been filled.'

Ms Ajayi said NHS Employers' view was 'shared in the main part by the NHS', but human resources managers' views were being sought before final recommendations were made to the Home Office in May.

Nurses on band five and six of Agenda for Change were removed from the list last July, a move opposed by the RCN.

A plan by unions and the Department of Health to help newly qualified healthcare workers get jobs has been published. Designed to tackle increasing unemployment among healthcare graduates, the Social Partnership Forum plan will create 'talent pools' of jobless staff who will be matched with vacancies in their strategic health authority area.