Private firms employing foreign nurses will soon face random
checks to ensure staff are doing the jobs they were brought to the
UK to do, writes Gideon Burrows.
A home office ‘checking team’ will visit care firms
to make sure the terms of UK work permits are being fulfilled. The
team should be in place late this year.
The move will be welcomed by campaigners concerned that care
providers are employing foreign workers on nursing work permits,
but using them to do care work and menial tasks. Nursing work
permits are easy to obtain because nursing is on the
government’s ‘shortage occupation list’.
A home office spokesperson said: “The procedures we are setting
up are intended to address this problem. If malpractice is found to
be occurring, we will take appropriate action.”
The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the move: “If it ensures
that nurses are doing the job they are expecting, using their
skills and experience to provide good patient care, then this is
sensible measure,” said a spokesperson.
Meanwhile, a Cambridgeshire private health care group has been
granted permits for foreign nationals to work in the UK
specifically as senior care workers.
In what the home office described as a ‘special
case’, permits have been granted to Abbot Health Care for up
to 22 senior care workers who have qualifications equivalent to NVQ
But Gordon Ward, Abbot Health Care chairperson, said the
government’s failure to include care work on the
‘shortage occupation list’ could lead to crooked
businesses recruiting foreign workers as nurses, but then using
them for menial work.
“Perhaps people are driven to do something that’s not
right because the alternative is that homes have to close,” he
The home office said there was no immediate plans to add care
work to the shortage occupation list.
* A group of Philippine nurses have quit the Hertfordshire
nursing homes they worked for after complaining of low wages,
excessive hours and being expected to do menial work instead of
The 35 nurses worked in four homes owned by joint companies
Wilton House Ltd and Oak Care Ltd.
They claimed they were paid one third less than other registered
nurses employed at the homes, and were made to work over 48 hours a
A Unison spokesperson said: “They are nurses who are fully
trained, but were doing a multitude of tasks including cleaning and
The nurses say they paid a Philippine recruitment agency up to
£3,000 to arrange work for them in the UK. Community
Care has seen a copy of a contract which bans the workers from
‘trade union activities’.
The home owner, Mrs Mary Reekhaye, said in a written statement
that the nurses had not lodged any complaint with management.
“We do not accept any suggestions that the nurses have been
employed on any less favourable terms than other staff employed
within the company,” she said.