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Over 5,000 nurses to be brought into the NHS from overseas

The NHS is intending to source more than 5,000 nurses from overseas, Health Education England has revealed.

HEE chief executive Professor Ian Cumming told the House of Commons Health Committee yesterday that ‘somewhere in the region of 5,500 nurses’ would be brought into the country ‘internationally, on an ethically based “earn, learn and return” programme’.

He added that HEE has ‘started by piloting this with India’ and HEE said it formed part of the ‘global learners programme’, developed between HEE and Apollo Medskills India.

According to an HEE spokesperson, 500 nurses will start working in NHS hospitals across the country by the end of 2017/18, with HEE to ‘address future cohorts after that’.

But although the MPs’ enquiry is focusing on shortages in the UK nursing workforce, HEE said in a statement that this was in fact ‘not a recruitment programme’.

HEE director of global engagement Professor Ged Byrne said: ‘This is not a recruitment programme. The nurses will not stay, but learn and then return to the Indian healthcare system after benefiting the NHS through providing service whilst here, and benefiting themselves and India by going back as more experienced and skilled nurses.’

Professor Byrne said: ‘We are trialling the scheme to ensure it offers value for money for the NHS and improves the quality of care in here and in India.’

It comes as NHS England is planning on bringing over thousands of GPs, mainly from the EU, to plug gaps in the workforce.