Prince Philip tells it like it is

Much frothing and indignation over the Duke of Edinburgh's latest "gaffe" that the Philippines must be half empty because the natives are all here running the NHS. Oh, would that this were true. If Filipino nurses really were running the NHS, it would be doing a damn sight better job of caring for its patients.

There are about 12.5M Filipinos working overseas and about 200K of them are in the UK - I'd suspect at least 50% working in the NHS, and of those 50% as nurses, 50% as carers or auxiliary staff. Given 410K qualified nurses in the UK, that implies about 1 NHS nurse in 8 is Filipino; my admittedly limited encounters with the NHS support this data. They tend to be more competent than the average UK-educated nurse; all Filipino-educated nurses must hold a Bachelor's degree in Nursing, but this tends to have a much more practical and technical focus than the UK nursing degrees. One can't imagine a Filipino nursing tutor teaching his students about diversity, for instance. If you tried to sell a Filipino nurse on the University of Nottingham's nursing curriculum, she'd think you were making some sort of practical joke.

Prince Philip, once again, has put his finger on a salient issue of public policy. If the UK were serious about caring for its sick, it would be recruiting Filipino nurses hand over fist. Since it is not doing so, one can only conclude that the demands of the Royal College of Nursing for job security for its members have trumped the needs of NHS patients. I find it especially instructive that the RCN's view of supporting diversity is organising Gay Nursing Pride events given that 2-5% of the population is gay (depending on whose figures you believe) but 12% of the UK nursing profession is Filipino. Frankly, I would have thought that overseas nurses were in far greater need of support from the RCN than gay nurses. Since an influx of competent foreign nurses with a good command of English language and grammar would put downwards pressure on nursing wages and make the native nurses look uncaring, incompetent and badly educated, maybe it's not surprising that the RCN is not campaigning for this influx - we should, however, realise that the RCN does not concern itself with the best interests of patients.

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