• BBC reports that Immigration figures rise.
• Immigration: The need for foreign nurses
By the time you read this column the UK General Election will be over and, if the polls are correct, Tony Blair and a Labour Government will be returned to office for a further five years.
Immigration has become one of the major issues in this election with all the main parties calling for “controlled immigration”. Labour’s record on immigration has been positive, especially for economic migration, although the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, has recently announced a series of proposed measures to tighten controls (see March edition of Mizmo). The tougher measures, announced in his new 5 year Immigration Plan in February, include: a points system for managed migration, fingerprinting of all visa applicants, an end to automatic right for immigrants’ families to settle and to allow only skilled workers to stay permanently.
Immigration figures rise – BBC Report
Immigration: 90 million people passed through UK in 2003
Almost 140,000 immigrants settled in the UK last year, a fifth up on 2002. Immigrants given settlement because of work doubled to 29,600.
However, the number of students and people arriving on work permits declined slightly.
Although full figures will be released later in the year, the government’s headlines figures for non-asylum immigration reveal a complex picture of movements of people.
Overall, more than 90 million journeyed through the UK at some stage in 2003, say the figures published by the Home Office.
Grants of settlement – a government decision to allow someone to permanently remain in the UK, rose by 20% over 2002 to 139,675 people. This represents the third year of increased settlement grants, after a fall between 2000 and 2001.
The majority of settlements (47%) were however for family reasons, with 65,800 people allowed to bring wives, husbands or children into the country.
People given settlement for employment reasons – typically foreigners who have worked in stable jobs in the UK for a long time – accounted for a fifth of the grants.
Students comprised 318,630 of those admitted to the UK in 2003 – 14% down on 2002. There were large falls in the number of students from Asia (excluding the Indian sub-continent), Europe and the Americas.
Immigration: The need for foreign nurses
Immigration Watch, the Immigration think tank reports that the number of nurses entering the UK has risen from less than 5,000 a year in the 1990s to around 15,000 in each of the last three years, equivalent to 6% of net foreign immigration.
The three countries supplying the largest number of overseas nurses to the UK are the Philippines, India and South Africa. There is evidence that poorer countries, such as Malawi, are being denuded of their nursing workforce by UK and other Western recruitment.
There is, however, an outflow mainly to other English-speaking countries of about 8,000 nurses per year; up from 3-4,000 per year in the mid-1990s.
As the NHS recruitment drive continues overseas, applications for diploma-based nursing courses in the UK have fallen.
The present requirement for foreign nurses is clear, but needs to be placed in context. There are 645,000 nurses on the UK register. About 300,000 work for the NHS, some 200,000 are in the private sector and the remainder are not practicing. In 2003 there were nearly 59,000 overseas-trained nurses on the UK register, or about 9%.
The Main non-EU source countries in 2002/3, as in recent years, were the Philippines (5,593), India (1,830), and South Africa (1,368).
A recent piece of research for the King’s Fund showed that active NHS recruitment drives overseas had become a critical part of overall recruitment strategy for NHS trusts in London, but went on to criticize the government for taking nurses and doctors from developing countries and for not training more nurses in the UK.
There will continue to be a need to recruit overseas nurses in the foreseeable future, however, there is going to be increasing pressure on the government to recruit, retain and train more nurses in the UK and restrict recruitment from developing countries.
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