More than 80 would-be nurses were barred from working at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital last year because of immigration rules, it was revealed today.
New figures from the Royal College of Nursing showed that 82 applications for sponsorship certificates for nurses who hoped to work at the Gayton Road site were rejected between April and November 2015.
The figure is the 12th highest among NHS trusts in England. A further 75 applications from the hospital were passed in the same period.
But managers say a recent change in the rules will make it easier for the hospital to recruit the staff they need from overseas.
And Catherine Morgan, the trust’s director of nursing, said the hospital had just welcomed a new group of Indian and Filipino nurses last week.
She said: “While the long term goal is to continue developing local talent into the profession, recruiting internationally is very important to us.
“This bridges the current gap in registered nurses and ensures we maintain safe patient care.”
Organisations who want to recruit staff from outside the European Economic Area had to apply for a sponsorship certificate enabling them to work in the UK.
Until last November, when nursing was added to a list of shortage professions, the number of certificates was tightly restricted.
The highest number of rejected applications was from the East Lancashire NHS Trust, where all 300 applications were turned down.
The figures emerged amid growing concern about proposals to scrap the bursaries currently paid to nursing students and replace them with loans.
The government says the move will save around £800 million a year, though critics say it will saddle nurses with debt for most of their careers.
Protests were held in London, Manchester and Newcastle at the weekend.
And Emma Corlett, Unison representative for the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust branch said: “Without a bursary, their is no way I would have been able to enter the nursing profession.”