It is "distracting, frustrating and expensive" to have to recruit large numbers of nurses from overseas, the head of a leading NHS hospital says.
Dr Keith McNeil, who runs Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, urged officials to "figure out" what resources were needed and improve UK recruitment.
Around 7,500 nurses from countries such as Spain, Romania and Italy registered to work in the UK last year.
Health Education England said national training places had increased.
Figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) show the recruitment of overseas staff to the UK is growing.
The number of nurses coming here from other parts of the EU has risen steadily during the past six years - now making up the vast majority of new overseas recruits - while the number of foreign nurses from beyond Europe has dropped.
The trend has been driven partly by the financial crisis in countries such as Spain and Portugal - and because of extra demand for NHS nurses in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire scandal.
The number of training places for nurses in England fell in 2011 and 2012.