More must be done to train nurses in this country - and urgently, said UKIP Health spokesman Louise Bours today.
Her comments come in the wake of a shock report from the Health Service Journal showing almost three-quarters of hospital trusts have been driven to recruiting overseas.
"While we have always had some foreign nurses working in the NHS it is now getting out of control and we cannot go ignoring the situation," said Ms Bours, North West MEP.
"This shortage of home grown registered nurses should never have been allowed to develop and cutting 10,000 training posts since the last General Election has plainly been a massive mistake. I believe one of the ways to address this is to scrap the insistence on university degrees.
"We need to go back to learning on the job backed up with classroom training which would help tackle this staffing crisis. Nursing is about caring and practical experience on the wards dealing with real patients is worth its weight in gold.
"A survey earlier this year revealed that more than half of nurses are so unhappy that they want to quit to work overseas for countries such as Australia where they can often earn at least £10,000 a year more.
"Morale among nursing staff is very low as they feel their essential work is undervalued so it is no wonder that we have staff shortages in this country. It is a crisis and swift action is needed," she said.
Latest figures show in the 12 months ending in September last year 5,778 nurses from abroad were recruited compared with 1,360 the previous year.
"Recruiting staff from abroad carries the inherent risk that poor English skills could lead to misunderstandings and mistakes. It also adds to the costs of recruitment, money which should be spent on training and paying British nurses.
"Because our hands are tied by EU rules on freedom of labour about 75% of nurses from overseas are allowed to register to work here without any checks on their language or competence. That is plainly wrong and dangerous," she said.