Many nurses are opting to leave the NHS and move to a foreign country in pursuit of better pay and conditions. About 5,500 choose to emigrate last year and this the largest amount within the past ten years.
Nurses who work in the NHS notoriously get paid a ridiculously low wage for the work they do, which is why one of the most popular places to emigrate to is the United States. In America a nurse can expect to be paid a starting salary of up to $56,000, which is around £40,000 and work in an environment that is not so stressful.
They will also receive fantastic perks to the job, which can include private health insurance, a number of return flights home per year and subsidised rent or mortgage.
It is no wonder why all of Britain’s fantastic NHS nurses are slipping through our fingers – in Britain the starting salary is about £15,500, with a pay rise of up to £18,500 after a fair few years of experience.
Australia, New Zealand and Canada are among the most popular with British staff. With thousands of students turning their nose up to the profession in the UK, the migration of qualified nurses puts yet more pressure on the already struggling hospitals who are now having to look abroad for staff.
Last year Britain employed 8,500 nurses and midwives, the majority coming from third world countries such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines.
This year, foreign recruits are set to surpass the number of newly-qualified British nurses for the first time in the history of the NHS.
Figures from the UK Central Council for Nursing and Midwifery (UKCC) shows that the number of nurses leaving Britain to work abroad has nearly doubled from the 3,400 who emigrated in 1997.
Currently the morale of nurse has reach an all-time low in the NHS because of ongoing poor pay and conditions.
Tory health spokesman Liam Fox said the statistics were extremely worrying.
He added: ‘We seem to be incapable of keeping our own nurses in our own country, and at the same time we are having to steal them from some of the poorest nations in the world.
‘This all illustrates the Government’s complete and abject failure to improve the situation in the NHS.’
The NHS has spent £72million recruiting nurses from abroad and many of them have not stayed within the NHS for more than 6 months.
Recruitment levels from developed nations such as Australia and Canada are decreasing fast as dreadful stories about NHS pay and conditions put people off.
The Government has made its attempts to encourage nurses to stay in the NHS by increasing the pay of higher grades by 8 per cent and developing flexible working conditions and better childcare facilities.
But Caroline Hyde-Price, head of the international office at the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘It shows the Government has a long way to go to encourage nurses to stay in the NHS – there is huge interest in working abroad.’
A spokesman for the Department of Health said the growing brain drain was not a problem.
‘We’ve got more nurses returning to the profession, record numbers of training places and the vacancy rate has fallen. The bottom line is that we have increased the number of nurses by 17,000’ he said.