The UK Will Soon Re-recruit Overseas Trained Nurses

Trained nurse (Photo credit:
Trained nurse (Photo credit:
Trained nurse (Photo credit:
Trained nurse (Photo credit:

The United Kingdom started a massive recruitment of nurses in the late 1990’s and early 2000. Fifty-years from its initial formation, the National Health Service grew from the initial Park Hospital NHS in Manchester to a global healthcare leader in research, innovation, wellness, e-health and healthcare recruitment with almost more than a third of its workforce from overseas.

With a generational decline in the entry of newly qualified nurses and steady increase in the aging population, nurses from all levels were eventually included in the shortage occupational list released by the government in the last decade. The inclusion triggered a substantial nationwide recruitment drive for overseas trained nurses to “fill-in the gaps” in the now weakening NHS. The various push and pull factors of the international recruitment campaign both caused advantages and disadvantages to both recruiter and recruitee.

Adaptation Nurses or Registered Overseas Nurses arrived in the UK in large groups from 1998 to the early 2000. Most were recruited by the various departments of the NHS, while a small percentage were recruited by the independent healthcare sector or better known as the nursing homes. The influx of overseas trained nurses seeking registration with the regulatory body, Nursing and Midwifery Council, caught the healthcare sector unprepared for any practical adaptation to the UK way of nursing. The loophole in the system was taken advantage and exploited by institutions to their benefit. The introduction of a standardized system of preparation for overseas trained nurses led to the development of the Overseas Nursing Program or ONP. The two-part program is presently the gold-standard for incorporating overseas trained nurses into the current system. With one-part focused on knowledge gained through a partner university and the second-part involving skills and practical development through an accredited clinical placement, the ONP helped define the grey areas of nursing in the UK.

Together with the government’s initiative to increase the number of local residents to take up nursing as a profession, the ONP served its purpose of standardizing nursing adaptation programs across the board and closed down institutions and recruiters alike who simply took advantage of the demand.

Over the last five-years, the number of ONP placement has declined to pre-mid-1990s levels. The demand for nurses however still continued to exist within the NHS. The continuous demand was satisfied by various questionable methods and top-up courses for overseas trained nurses. The end goal of successfully getting registered with the NMC albeit a means others than the ONP were achieved by most aspiring overseas trained nurses.

The combination of changes in the UK immigration system, the increasing financial debt of the healthcare system, the availability of limited locally trained nurses and the overall increasing complexity of employing overseas trained nurses have generally discouraged most UK employers to recruit internationally. The fact that the UK healthcare system still needs overseas trained nurses to supplement its current workforce is as real as it was in the last decade. The top-level changes in the healthcare system and the changing anthropological climate and population needs dictate the future of the UK healthcare system. With the present healthcare needs of the country, the overall trend is now starting to slip back to pre-1998 era. At this rate, international recruitment will again be a prime choice for NHS Employers. With more specialized recruitment and consultancy agencies and having learned from the experiences in the past, international recruitment will be more streamlined, organized and straightforward. Competition will be more robust as only the best and those who are well prepared will be able to take advantage of the opportunity.

Present requirements for registering with the NMC are still the same. A band score of not lower than 7.0 in all parts of the academic type of the IELTS and a valid NMC Decision Letter are prime documents that can shape the individual’s UK nursing future. It will help expedite the applicant’s placement and eventual deployment. Timing, readiness and preparation are some of the traits of those who eventually get employment abroad.

Immigration might make it difficult as the NHS might be reluctant to recruit overseas nurses until the process is relaxed and every other trusts recruits from abroad but the truth is the United Kingdom still needs nurses.

If you are an experienced nurse in Theatre, ICU, pediatric ICU or Neonatal ICU and in possession of a valid NMC Decision Letter, an opportunity to work in the UK is a likely possibility. Visit the Philippine Nurses Association of UK website at for more information on how you can jumpstart your career as a nurse in the UK. Alternatively, send us an email ([email protected]) with your CV and a scanned copy of your decision letter so we can assist you.

© 2012, Filipino Nurses. All rights reserved. DISCLAIMER: The accuracy of all articles contained in this website are the responsibility of their respective authors. All articles are for informational purposes only and are NOT intended to replace the advice of a doctor. The owner of this site disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on these information. If you have any health-related questions, please consult your physician. If you feel ill, please seek medical attention immediately.

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  • cyra

    this is good to know but what about those nuses who have experinces to other fields dont you have any good news?

  • All other clinical experiences are welcome. The most important document is to have the NMC Decision Letter. As long as you have the NMC Decision Letter, you are prioritized and will have the edged no matter what your clinical speciality is.

    • cathy

      hello, im currently working here in riyadh as an er nurse, is there any vacant slots for that? how much money to prepare for the processing?

      • As long as you have the NMC Decision Letter, applicants will be prioritized over other applicants without NMC Decision Letter. Whatever your speciality, you will be given priority over those without any NMC Decision Letter. You can apply directly with the NMC and the fees are quite affordable. The NMC website is

        • nhel

          hi, gud day, would like to ask how can i get the NMC decision letter or what to do to get this decision letter?

          thank you

  • Lilia (Baby) P. Calayo

    I am a holder of valid license in UK,worked in Wales for 6 years, came back to the Philippines because of my son, will you be able to assist me to find a job in UK? Thank you

    • Hi Lilia,

      valid pa rin ba ang nmc license mo? can you send me a scanned copy of your nmc license? Also your most uptodate cv. send them to [email protected].

      I am sure you can be helped.

      • Viola

        Thanks for posting this add. i am pastthe age of working at 60yrs but am still strong and fast worker compatring to the younger at this times,well i have my son and nephew who are both nurses and having their experience to have at least 2yrs, can i let them apply? Thak you so much…

        • Salamat Viola for your reply. We will help any nurse. Our suggestion is to ask them to start by taking the IELTS. They must get an average of 7.0 score in all areas of the academic type of test. The next step is to apply for the NMC for pre-registration for their NMC decision letter. These are the first steps they should do. Email us if we can be of further assistance at [email protected]


  • J

    Hello. I’ve read the practice requirements for the nmc registration and it said that if an applicant cannot apply if they have not practiced 12 months after qualifying as a nurse. Is it still possible to apply if I’ve had more than 450 hrs but had it 12 months after qualifying as a nurse?

  • Yeyette


    I want to apply for an NMC. I had 2 years hospital experience and took ielts with 7 as score in all bands. but currently, I am working in a clinic and sometimes as a pdn. Am I qualified to apply? Thanks,

    • she

      yeyette, register to nursing midwifery council of UK, they will give you a ltter and a kit. apply ka na before your ielts will expire, must be 7 in all subject ( listening, reading speaking and writing.) check thsi website then inquire..

  • Carmencita Lapez

    Hello!I had an nmc decision sad to say it is already expired.Im presently in UK with a job as a Senior Carer.Is there an opportunity for me?Hope to hear from you.Also my son just passed the nursing licensure exam.please advise the requirements he has to comply to quslify him to do the ONP.Looking forward for a reply,thank you and more power God bless!

    • You need to write to the NMC for an extension or renew your NMC decision letter. When they have re-issued you a new NMC Decison Letter, send us a copy at [email protected]

      With regards to your son, ask him to take the IELT with no score below 7 in all of the test. Take the academic type of test. When he passes the IELTs, ask him to apply for the NMC Decision Letter. See the website at for more information



    Is it true that most UK hospitals don’t offer an adaptation program anymore? I recently received my decision letter from NMC and they said I have to undergo 3-6 months of supervised training before I can be registered with them. But with out any hospital willing to sponsor me then I guess my chances of working in UK is very slim, right?