The head of the Royal College of Nursing is right to criticise the number of nurses being recruited from within the European Union instead of from home, says Ukip health spokesman Louise Bours.
RCN chief Peter Carter told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Tuesday that for 20,000 nurse training posts last year there were 57,000 applications.
He said nursing remained “a very attractive occupation” but added that it was a shame that 37,000 people had to be turned away.
He added: “Isn’t that a matter of huge regret that you’ve got people in the four countries of the UK who want to train as nurses.
“They’re being turned away, while we’re going off and raiding the often impoverished workforce of other countries.”
Mr Carter said the brain drain of other countries’ nurses was “no way to run a health service”, adding: “Raiding these countries who are training their own nurses to bail out our health services is ethically indefensible.”
He said he understood the staffing dilemma NHS trusts faced due to Government cut backs, but said “our worry is as the economies [of poorer countries] start to recover, and there are already signs of that, people will return to their countries of origin. And that is no way to run a health service.”
Ms Bours, MEP for the North West and a member of the Europe for Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the European Parliament, said: “I agree entirely with Peter Carter.
“It’s insulting that we are taking what is essentially a cheaper workforce from countries that still need their own trained nursing staff.
“When the economies of those countries pick up and those NHS staff return home, what happens then?
“In our independently costed general election manifesto we pledged to fund the training of 20,000 more nurses and 3,000 more midwives.
“We would also fund return-to-practice training for those who have taken career breaks to have children, for instance.
“We would also bring back to the State Enrolled Nurse, putting care and compassion back at the heart of nursing.”