International recruitment of nurses: policy and practice in the United Kingdom

Health Serv Res. 2007 Jun;42(3 Pt 2):1321-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2007.00710.x.


Objective: To synthesize information about nurse migration into and out of the United Kingdom in the period to 2005, and to assess policy implications.

Principal findings: There has been rapid growth in inflow of nurses to the United Kingdom from other countries. In recent years, 40-50 percent of new nurse registrants in the United Kingdom have come from other countries, principally the Philippines, Australia, India, and South Africa. Outflow has been at a lower level, mainly to other English-speaking developed countries--Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Ireland, and Canada. The United Kingdom is a net importer of nurses. The principal policy instrument in the United Kingdom, the Code of Practice on International Recruitment, has not ended the inflow of nurses to the United Kingdom from sub-Saharan Africa.

Conclusions: Given the increasing globalization of labor markets, it is likely that the historically high levels of inflow of internationally recruited nurses to the United Kingdom will continue over the next few years; however the "peak" number reached in 2002/2003 may not be repeated, particularly as large-scale active international recruitment has now been ended, for the short term at least. New English language tests and other revised requirements for international applicants being introduced by the Nurses and Midwives Council from September 2005 may restrict successful applications from some countries and will also probably add to the "bottleneck" of international nurse applicants. Demographic-driven demand for health care, combined with a potential reduction in supply of U.K. nurses as many more reach potential retirement age means that international recruitment is likely to remain on the policy agenda in the longer term, even with further growth in the number of home-based nurses being trained.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Demography
  • Emigration and Immigration / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emigration and Immigration / trends
  • Foreign Professional Personnel / supply & distribution*
  • Global Health
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / trends
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Midwifery
  • Nurses / supply & distribution*
  • Personnel Selection / trends*
  • Public Policy*
  • United Kingdom