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Hospital bosses defend recruiting Romanian nurses | Immigration Matters

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An NHS Health Trust has defended its action in travelling to Romania last year to recruit foreign nurses saying it was ‘unable to fill the positions with British staff despite job advertisements’.

Health bosses at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford came under fire after an investigation found that a team had been sent to Romania on a recruitment drive, despite the fact that hundreds of job cuts – including 250 nurses – were planned at Barts and London NHS Trust just 20 miles away.

But a spokesman from Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust hit back arguing they had been ‘unable to fill advertised nursing positions with local nurses’ and were forced to look abroad.

“Last winter we needed to quickly recruit more nurses to care for the patients who had been diverted to us when the A&E department at Queen Mary Sidcup closed,” he said.

“We could not fill this requirement with British nurses, despite advertising on NHS Jobs. As a result, we recruited 20 Romanian nurses.

“As a responsible employer, we check all of our nurses’ literacy, numeracy and verbal skills.

“Our 20 Romanian nurses are excellent nurses who are well trained, educated professionals who have adapted well to the British health system.

“Their English is good, and they have excellent bedside nursing skills and a lovely manner with our patients. They are a welcome addition to our excellent nursing workforce.”

He added that wherever possible local nurses are recruited.

“For example we have just taken on 25 newly qualified staff, many are from the University of Greenwich who trained on our wards,” he said.

Health Minister Simon Burns said NHS employers were only allowed to employ foreign doctors and nurses if there were no suitable staff available in the UK or European Economic Area.

At least 11 NHS Trusts and one health authority had sent teams abroad to recruit doctors and nurses.

The move came under fire by campaign groups and those in the health profession, including medical professor and television presenter Lord Robert Winston.

During a debate in the House of Lords he highlighted problems with nurses coming from countries such as Romania and Bulgaria.

“Communication between the patient and the professional is of vital importance,” he said.

“We run the risk of losing it with this issue of nurses who can’t speak the English language and have been trained in a different way.”

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said she was concerned with a lack of understanding of processes and procedures by foreign nurses. Source: Kent News.

Despite the fact that they are EU members, when it comes to employment Bulgarian and Romanian citizens do not have the same rights as other Europeans, for instance from Poland, Slovakia or other A8 Accession countries.

Many care industry and catering businesses would like to recruit Romanian, Bulgarian and other European workers, as the Government’s cap on migration, combined with newly imposed restrictions on Tier 2 and Tier 4 routes, has made it increasing difficult to recruit non-EU staff (on work permits and student visas).

Bulgarians and Romanians who exercise their Treaty Rights (under Article 39) and apply for an accession card as self employed persons or as students taking vocational or sandwich courses (e.g. National Vocational Qualification NVQ/QCF in Health and Social Care), are allowed to work full time, as stated on their Yellow Cards, but they have to apply for this and jump through several hoops.

Unlike other EU members, or for that matter non-EU students, Bulgarians and Romanians applying for BR1 yellow card registration as students who wish to work are being forced to take out Comprehensive Sickness Insurance – a form of private medical cover – despite the fact that they have access to the NHS. 

The insurance is a new requirement introduced by the UK Border Agency as part of changes to the BR1 Yellow Card form in June. The revised BR1 form does not make it clear that a student will need Comprehensive Sickness Insurance, as the actual question relates to those applying as ‘self sufficient’ EU applicants. For more information on immigration rules for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens visit the UK Border Agency website or see an OISC registered immigration adviser. 

Applicants should also note that the newly revised UK Border Agency website has changed previously published links to specific pages of the site may no longer exist. 

See also:

NHS hospitals cut British jobs but still hire abroad on expensive jollies

Do we actually need foreign nurses, especially those with poor English who are a risk? Lord Winston asks

UK firms plan to recruit more EU migrants to fill job vacancies

Health care workers needed in UK now

BR1 Form for ‘Yellow Card’ Registration revised

Immigration Rules for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals 

Comprehensive Sickness Insurance now required for Bulgarian and Romanian study work yellow cards

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.

For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email

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