There’s fears patients in Hartlepool could be put at risk by immigration rules which are preventing foreign nurses from working during the busy winter period.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation currently has 51 nurse vacancies and has recently offered 73 posts to nurses from the Philippines.
However, the first two nurses have had their certificates of sponsorship – which they need to be able to work in the country – turned down by the Home Office.
They have re-submitted their applications, but Trusts across the country are experiencing similar problems.
As a result the head of 10 leading trusts have written to the Home Secretary to say patients are being put at risk.
A spokesman for the town’s trust said: “We actively recruit from the local area and universities, but we still have to look abroad. We have had two groups of nurses from the Philippines in the past and we’ve just been back to recruit more nurses to help fill our vacant posts.
“We were fortunate to be able to offer posts to 73 nurses and we explained to them there was a process to go through to get them into the country and into our trust.
“We applied for certificates of sponsorship from the Home Office for the first two nurses who were able to come over immediately, but unfortunately they have been turned down. We have re-submitted these applications for certificates of sponsorship and are waiting to hear if they have been approved this time.”
However, the Home Office has said that many certificates of sponsorships allocated nationally have gone unused.
A spokesman said: “NHS trusts have been given more than 1,400 Tier 2 certificates of sponsorship for nurses since April this year, but over 600 of the places allocated to them in April and May this year have been returned unused.
“The independent Migration Advisory Committee, which took evidence from a number of NHS trusts and representative bodies from across the UK, recommended against adding nurses to the Shortage Occupation List earlier this year.”