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Quarter of foreign nurses denied permission to work at Brent’s health trust despite staff shortages

PUBLISHED: 12:41 15 January 2016 | UPDATED: 15:32 15 January 2016

Northwick Park Hospital

Northwick Park Hospital

Archant

More than a quarter of foreign nurses set to start work at the hospital trust serving Brent were denied permission to work in the UK last year.

Sixty new nurses could not start work at the London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Central Middlesex and Northwick Park hospitals, between April and November last year.

The figures were released yesterday by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) after the Times reported last week that the health trust has the highest number of nursing vacancies in the capital.

A RCN report showed the vacancy rate for nurses in the trust stood at 30 per cent – though health chiefs put the figure at 21pc instead.

RCN London regional director, Bernell Bussue, said: “Right across London, health employers are trying to address a shortage of registered nurses, yet the government’s artificial immigration cap has prevented nurses from coming to work here in our city.

“Our nursing colleagues from overseas have always played a huge role in London’s health service and the government should value and support their work.

“London needs more nurses. Nursing should be kept on the Home Office shortage occupation list so that nursing staff are able to move and settle here in the numbers we need to keep patients safe.”

The RCN revealed on Thursday that more than 200 foreign nurses due to start work at the trust had applied for restricted certificates of sponsorship – the document an organisation needs to be able to recruit an employee who is from outside the European Economic Area.

But 29pc of them were denied permission to work in the UK by the Home Office.

It was the highest number in London after the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which saw 80 nurses being denied permission to work between April and November 2015.

Until November last year, the number of certificates that could be granted by the Home Office was limited before the government department temporarily placed nurses on the shortage occupation list.

The listing means nurses’ applications for certificates will be prioritised, and there will be no requirement for nurses to earn £35,000 or more in order to work in the UK.

A spokesman for the health trust said: “In common with a lot of trusts in London, we rely on nurses from overseas and we were pleased when nurses were placed on the Home Office’s shortage occupation list.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The restrictions on Tier 2 visa places are designed to ensure businesses recruit from within the UK when people have the skills they need. Places are prioritised to ensure visas are granted to those the UK needs most.

“In October, the Home Secretary agreed to place nurses on the shortage occupation list on a short-term basis to make it easier for health trusts to fill vacancies over the winter months.

“The Migration Advisory Committee has been asked to review whether nurses should remain on the list and they will report on this next month.”

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