Following the news that the UK government plans to lift its cap on nurse and doctor numbers employed through the Tier 2 visa system, Scotland intends to address current staff shortages by recruiting from overseas.
Shona Robison, the Scottish government’s Health Secretary, announced the new initiative, claiming that it would focus on recruiting for professional groups and specialities that are experiencing the greatest effects from shortages and any potential problems caused by Brexit.
Speaking at NHS Scotland’s Annual Event, which this year was held in Glasgow, Ms Robison confirmed the Scottish government’s plan to attract medical staff from overseas, with the emphasis on recruiting specialist, medical and nursing staff, who can benefit from the recent changes to the Tier 2 visa scheme.
Welcoming the relaxed visa regulations that will now apply for vital and highly skilled nursing and medical recruits from overseas, Ms Robison told the audience at the Annual Event that extra efforts would be put into building on current campaigns that are already in development. Although she acknowledged that NHS Scotland already derives enormous benefits from staff from abroad, she claims that the threat of impending Brexit is already impacting upon the number of overseas health professionals considering a move to Scotland.
With the Scottish government promising to release its new plans as soon as they have been finalised, Norman Provan, who is Associate Director of Employment Relations for the RCN, spoke of his delight at the new initiative, claiming that it is a ‘welcome step’.
Both Mr Provan and Ms Robison praised the contribution that is being made by nursing and health care staff who have already come from overseas to work for the NHS in Scotland and throughout the UK. Describing their contribution as ‘immense’ and reminding reporters that we must not underestimate their value to the health sector, Mr Provan said that there must now be a focus on attracting staff from overseas with the necessary skills, training and expertise to drive NHS Scotland forward.
According to Mr Provan, the Scottish government should also consider ways in which it might boost the expertise of the current nursing workforce by improving opportunities to train young people with the potential to excel in the health sector.
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