Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has urged the government to take more effective measures to ensure that the NHS does not recruit nurses from developing countries.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Peter Lilley asked the Health Minister to ensure that the NHS abides by its code of practice on ethical recruitment. The Minister replied that the code of practice is monitored by Strategic Health Authorities and NHS Trusts.
Peter Lilley said: “The sad truth is that, despite the government?s assurances, the UK imported some 15,000 nurses, largely from developing countries while at the same time exporting 8,000 nurses trained in Britain largely to developed countries. It is somewhat hypocritical to promise more aid to Africa, which should be used to help their health services and train their nurses, when it is actually Africa which is subsidising our health service by sending trained nurses to this country.
“The Minister said the NHS does not ?actively? recruit from these countries. But passive recruitment has the same effect. Presumably the government do issue work permits for nurses from developing countries to come here ? recruited initially by a private employer but then switching to the NHS.?
Note to editors:
Extract from Hansard of the 12th July below:
. Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): What measures are in place to ensure that the NHS abides by its code of practice on ethical recruitment. 
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Ms Rosie Winterton): Compliance with the code of practice is monitored by NHS Employers, an organisation that works closely with strategic health authorities and trusts to ensure that the NHS abides by the code.
Mr. Lilley: Can the Minister confirm that, none the less, this country imported some 15,000 nurses, largely from developing countries, in the last year for which we have figures, while exporting 8,000 nurses that we trained, largely to developed countries? Are we not at risk of being accused of hypocrisy if we spend a lot of time saying that we should give more aid to Africa, which should help its health service and train its nurses to cure the sicknesses and diseases that we deplore, when it is actually subsidising our health service by sending nurses to this country who, despite the measures that the Minister referred to, end up employed in the NHS?
Ms Winterton: We are the only developed country that has an ethical international recruitment policy. There are about 150 countries from which we do not actively recruit, including all the sub-Saharan African countries. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that it is difficult for us to stop people applying for jobs in this country and to prevent them from coming here. All sorts of human rights issues would be raised if we were to do that. However, we are clear that the NHS does not actively recruit in developing countries that say they have problems, and we have recently extended that to cover the independent health care sector as well.