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MAC Advise UK Government to Keep Nurses on UK Shortage Occupation List

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has advised the UK government to maintain the current status of nurses on the Shortage Occupation List to ensure that there is sufficient staff in place.

The MAC had been asked by the government to review whether there is still a shortage of nurses or specific nursing jobs which should be filled by non-EEA migrants rather than current nurses. Following an investigation, it was advised in the Partial Review of the Shortage Occupation List: Review of nursing that nurses should remain on the Shortage Occupation List by the committee.

Following the decision by the MAC, the government stated that they would place a maximum annual cap of 5,000 places for nurses using the Tier 2 system, with the limit gradually declining over the next three years. Despite being placed on the shortage list, employers seeking to hire a non-EEA nurse would still need to complete a Resident Labour Market test.

UK Nurses Shortage

Nurses were initially placed on the shortage list to try and handle the number of staff needed over the winter period in 2015, with the MAC initially believing that there was not a shortage. However, the MAC found that the lack of nurses in the UK was due, in particular, to cuts across the NHS, poor workforce planning and continued financial pressure and targets on NHS budgets.

Speaking in regards to the shortage Professor Sir David Metcalf CBE, Chair of the MAC stated that it was internal decisions in the sector that had led to the shortage. He said: “We have reluctantly made this recommendation. However, there is no good reason why the supply of nurses cannot be sourced domestically. There seems to be an automatic presumption that non-EEA skilled migration provides the health and care sector with a ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card.

He added: “The long term solution to addressing this shortage.”

The MAC also expressed concern that the number of nurses could result in the immigration cap, which is currently at just over 20,000 being hit quickly, which in turn, could lead to other industries struggling to attract skilled workers from outside of the EU.

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