WORKFORCE: A Manchester trust’s plans to draft in 275 nurses from India have been thrown into doubt due to difficulties securing visas.

  • Visa process stalls trust in recruiting 275 nurses in time for winter
  • Central Manchester Hospitals raises concerns with DH and NMC
  • Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals has also faced difficulties

Central Manchester Hospitals Foundation Trust had planned to have the nurses in post in July, but said there have been “difficulties in the pre-employment and migration processes required to bring the nurses into the UK”.

The provider secured “certificates of sponsorship” earlier in the year, effectively giving permission to carry out the recruitment in India, but said these expired before pre-employment and migration checks could be carried out.

It has since received 54 new certificates, and hopes these nurses can arrive by January. It is still trying to obtain certificates for the rest of the cohort.

The trust’s latest staffing report said there were about 550 full time equivalent qualified nurse vacancies in July.

It comes amid warnings from NHS Employers that new migration controls are putting patients at risk, by leaving trusts with staff shortages going into winter.

It has criticised the Home Office for not placing nursing on the “shortage occupation” list, and called for urgent action.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens this week warned that new rules were hampering efforts to expand the NHS’s nursing workforce.

The trust told HSJ: “We have encountered difficulties in the pre-employment and migration processes required to bring the nurses into the UK.

“This meant that the certificates of sponsorship secured earlier this year expired before our candidates could complete these checks, which include obtaining [Nursing and Midwifery Council] referral letters which trigger the visa application.”

The trust said it has raised concerns with the Department of Health, NHS Employers and the NMC, and has factored the delays into its winter plans.

Meanwhile, Sir Leonard Fenwick, chief executive of Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals FT, told HSJ he has been trying since spring to bring 40 nurses from the Philippines, but the process had been repeatedly delayed.

He added: “It’s worrying. We’d hoped they would have been with us in mid-summer to be able to settle in before winter.”

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “In the past it has been too easy for some employers to bring in workers from overseas rather than to take the long term decision to train our workforce here at home… The independent migration advisory committee, which took evidence from a number of NHS trusts and representative bodies from across the UK, recommended against adding nurses to the shortage occupation list.”