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International recruitment

04 April 2024
Volume 33 · Issue 7

The NHS has a long history of recruiting international staff to enhance its domestically educated workforce. In 2022-2023 the number of UK-educated joiners on the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Register rose by 8.5% to 27 142. The remaining 25 006 were internationally educated, a 6.8% rise. The number of professionals on the NMC register whose initial registration was outside the UK grew from 142 432 in March 2022 to 164 198 in March 2023. Five years earlier, there were 3522 international joiners to the register. International recruitment continues at such a significant rate, professionals educated around the world account for one in five nurses, midwives and nursing associates who can practise in the UK – of those, more than four in five were educated outside Europe (NMC, 2023).

Our NHS would not be able to function without its international workforce, who account for one in every six people who work in the health service. Increased ethical international recruitment will be vital to addressing the current workforce crisis (The King's Fund, 2023a). The shortage of registered nurses is not a localised issue. According to the World Health Organization (2020), the world is facing a shortage of around 6 million nurses, with demand projected to rise further due to ageing populations and increasing healthcare needs. The adult social care workforce comprises 1.6 million people and 16% are international staff, without whom the system would struggle to function. There are still 165 000 vacancies across the sector (The King's Fund, 2023b).

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