Ministers are to issue guidelines in the next few weeks in response to criticism that Britain is poaching staff from Third World countries that can ill afford to lose them. Earlier this year, Frank Dobson, as Health Secretary, described the trade in nurses as an "international disgrace". He said developed countries "talk about how much medical aid and assistance they are giving to the Third World and all over the developing world we are taking nurses and doctors away from them."
The guidance will stipulate that recruitment from abroad "should only be considered by the NHS when there is a clear nursing surplus in the countries where they are being recruited from". The objective was to safeguard the interests of nursing in those countries and not to save money, she said.
NHS trusts have increasingly been hiring abroad because of a shortage of skilled nurses at home. There are estimated to be up to 3,600 nurses and midwives from countries including the Philippines, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Finland and the developing world working in Britain.