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Overseas nurses use the UK as a stepping stone to more lucrative work, research suggests

Overseas-trained nurses are using the UK as a stepping stone to more lucrative work abroad, new research by the Health Foundation shows.

In analysis of applications for the Certificate of Current Professional Status (CCPS), which certifies practising nurse status in the UK, the think-tank found that in 2022/23, over 12,000 UK-registered nurses applied for a CCPS in order to register outside the UK. This is more than double the number the year before and four  times more than in 2018/19.

Overseas-trained nurses, who first qualified outside the UK and the EU, accounted for seven in 10 of these applicants in 2022/23. 

The largest increase was for overseas-trained nurses with three years or fewer on the UK register. 

In terms of destination, in 2022/23, more than four in five CCPS applications were for just three countries: Australia, New Zealand, and the US. Applications for the US increased ten-fold between 2021/22 and 2022/23. This coincided with the rolling over of unused visas from the pandemic period. 

Australia, New Zealand and the US all pay substantially more than the UK. All these countries have also recently announced measures to attract more nurses from overseas. Experiences on the front line during COVID-19 also may have led more nurses to consider their options. 

The researchers at the Health Foundation say it is too early to tell whether these patterns will become a sustained trend, and how many CCPS applications will actually result in nurses leaving. However, with the upfront cost of recruiting an overseas nurse estimated to be at least £10,000, having to replace those who leave after a short time will only add to pressures on budgets, they say. 

India and the Philippines were the two main source countries for overseas-trained nurses who joined the UK register during this period. Nurses from these two countries accounted for almost four in five (nearly 7,000) overseas-trained applications for a CCPS in 2022/23.

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