Letters

Mrs Neill's evident frustration at her inability to get on to the nursing register in the UK (letters, 17 February) shouldn't be allowed to get in the way of a few facts.

More nurses from South Africa registered in the UK for the first time in 1998-99 than from any other country with the exception of Australia. Indeed, concerns have been expressed by the South African government that too many of its trained nurses are being recruited into the UK.

Overseas-trained enrolled nurses can register with the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting if they have had appropriate post-registration education and training to bring them up to registered nurse standard.

If they have not done this, the rules - which are premised on protecting the public - are clear: they either have to undertake a conversion course in their country of origin or a three-year registered nurse education programme in this country.

As the regulatory body, the UKCC tries to be as flexible as possible in dealing with individual cases. We have also taken steps to handle the huge number of applications from overseas to meet trusts' recruitment needs. But the public would not expect us to lower standards of entry to help solve short-term staffing shortages.

Stuart Skyte Head of communications UKCC