The (mis)management of migrant nurses in the UK: a sociological study

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To examine Nepali migrant nurses' professional life in the UK.


In the late 1990s the UK experienced an acute nursing shortage. Within a decade over 1000 Nepali nurses migrated to the UK.


A multi-sited ethnographic approach was chosen for this study. Between 2006 and 2009, 21 in-depth interviews with Nepali nurses were conducted in the UK using snowballing sampling.


Nepali migrant nurses are highly qualified and experienced in specialised areas such as critical care, management and education. However, these nurses end up working in the long-term care sector, providing personal care for elderly people – an area commonly described by migrant nurses as British Bottom Care (BBC). This means that migrant nurses lack career choices and professional development opportunities, causing them frustration and lack of job satisfaction.


International nurse migration is an inevitable part of globalisation in health. Nurse managers and policy makers need to explore ways to make better use of the talents of the migrant workforce.

Implications for nursing management

We offer a management strategy to bring policies for the migrant workforce into line with the wider workforce plans by supporting nurses in finding jobs relevant to their expertise and providing career pathways.

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