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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nursing dream fades for Filipinos as UK jobs dry up

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Just over 10 years ago, in a major speech to a nursing conference in Brighton, Tony Blair promised to boost a desperately short-staffed NHS with 20,000 extra nurses. Not even Blair, though, could claim to be able to magic up that many British nurses – training takes at least three years – so instead, the NHS began importing them in huge numbers from across the globe.

They came in droves – particularly from India and the Philippines, where hundreds of private nursing schools were set up to meet this new demand from the UK, and also the US. Before long, every Philippine higher education institution had to have a nursing school or face closure from lack of business. A multitude of recruitment agencies were spawned there too, offering to sort out job, travel and visa for nurses lured by the promise of a lucrative salary on the other side of the world.

A decade later, however, the picture is very different. Britain has retrenched. Cutbacks, coupled with the European Union's rules on free movement of labour, mean few nursing vacancies for anyone from outside Europe these days.


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