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The UK's state-run National Health Service (NHS) plans to hire over 5,000 nurses from India and the Philippines in a bid to plug acute staff shortages in the country.
The NHS has been facing the crisis with nearly 35,000 vacancies for nurses and is under pressure to fill these posts as there has been a drop in the number of nurses coming in from within the European Union (EU) since the Brexit vote.
Prof Ian Cumming, chief executive of Health Education England addressing the Health Select Committee of the House of Common' yesterday said that a new "earn, learn and return" scheme had already been trialed with India and will soon also be launched in the Philippines.
"We are currently aiming to bring somewhere in the region of 5,500 nurses into the country internationally on an ethically-based 'earn, learn and return' programme," Cumming said.
Nurses from India have already been part of the first pilot of the scheme and a total of 500 nurses are expected to arrive in the UK by March 2018, which will ensure that India is not deprived of a "valued resource" while addressing the NHS needs.
"We aren't denuding a country of their valued resource but we are allowing people to come here for a fixed period of time. Yes, to help us with a staffing shortage that we have got, but also to learn to earn money and to take that back into their country," he told MPs here.
Historically, India is the second-largest supplier of nursing staff to the country after the Philippines.
"Overseas recruitment is incapable of plugging the vast gaps the NHS faces. With 40,000 nursing jobs vacant in England, this can barely be considered a sticking plaster," warned the UK's Royal College of Nursing.