Overseas workers account for one in five of all hospital staff

Premier Inn Tunbridge Wells

Figures released by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust show that out of 6,000 employees a total of 21 per cent are non-British, which follows an increasing national trend of people from outside the UK being recruited to the health service.

The data was released after a request for information from the Times.

The British Medical Association has previously admitted that many NHS services would be particularly stretched without pursuing a policy of recruitment from overseas.

According to national figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, of 112,911 medical staff (excluding GPs for which data is not available) working in English NHS hospitals, around two thirds were British (78,921), with 17,039 from countries outside of Europe and a further 9,557 from inside the EU.

However, a report from the Home Office’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has raised concerns over the NHS being among public services, including schools, which are presently able to use employment law that permits recruitment of staff from outside the EU on lower wages than their UK equivalents.

One of MAC’s findings was that non-EU nurses and medical practitioners had reportedly been paid up to £6,000 less than average UK salaries for corresponding posts. As a result, one of its key recommendations was that overseas workers in skilled roles should be appointed in positions at a minimum of £30,000, up from its current rate of £20,000, which it claimed would help combat any potential wage undercutting.

The Government has said it intends to clamp down on employment practices of employing staff on differing national pay scales, which has been claimed has effectively created an incentive for businesses to hire overseas workers on cheaper contracts.

With net migration to the UK now standing at a record high of 336,000, Home Secretary Theresa May is said to be preparing a £1,000-a-year immigration skills levy for firms employing overseas workers from outside Europe, which could reportedly affect the recruitment of nurses employed through agencies.

A spokesperson for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which oversees the hospital at Pembury, told the Times that it valued the contribution of its staff equally, whether UK-born or recruited from overseas.

He said: “Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust currently employs 5,995 staff, of which 79 per cent are British and 21 per cent are non-British.

“We recruit employees from within the UK and internationally to fill our vacancies. No preferential treatment is given to overseas candidates because all staff are employed using National Terms and Conditions of Employment, which has clear salary on appointment guidelines.”

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