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 www.pnauk.org.uk 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.
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