Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Recruiting International Nurses 'Frustrating And Expensive' NHS Chief Claims

An NHS Chief has branded the recruitment of overseas nurses as "distracting, frustrating and expensive" despite employing 300 nurses from the Philippines and the EU in the last year, the BBC reports.

Dr Keith McNeil, the Chief Executive of Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, called for NHS officials to "figure out" what resources were needed to improve UK recruitment and train more home grown nurses.

Last year more than 7,500 international nurses were recruited and registered to work in the UK from countries such as Spain, Croatia and The Philippines.

The majority of overseas nurses coming to work in the UK are from the EU, while the number of nurses from outside of Europe has declined. EU nurses (apart from Croatian Citizens) do not need Tier 2 Work Permits and can generally gain NMC PIN numbers without the need to undergo addition ONP training.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) figures confirm that the recruitment of overseas staff to the UK is on the rise as severe shortages hit NHS hospitals and Nursing Home groups.

In the last year, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has taken on 303 foreign nurses - half from the Philippines and the rest largely from Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Candidates at recruitment event in Portugal

In an interview with the BBC Dr McNeil said: "Nurses are the backbone of the NHS. You can't run services effectively in an acute hospital like this without adequate numbers of trained nursing staff.

"It's distracting, frustrating and expensive to do international recruitment. It would be nice not to have to do it... [and] to have a more targeted approach."

He added: "We don't have enough home-grown nurses, but we know the demographics. The health service has to figure out what resources are needed for our activity. We need proper planning; I think the people at Health Education England are doing that now.

"At least doing it now means avoiding having to do this in the years to come."

Nursing experts fear that shortages could be fuelled in the coming years by retirement among the baby-boomer generation, and limits on the number of skilled workers from outside the EU who are allowed into the UK.

NHS Employers has issued guidance to hospitals Trusts who may be considering international nurse recruitment.

Addenbrooke's estimates that it costs £3,000 to recruit each nurse from the EU, plus new arrivals are awarded £400 their first month's accommodation, so long as they stay for 18 months.

EU nurses had to be sent on a language course if they need to boost their conversational skills in English, as well as being given 10 weeks of mentoring support in the hospital to help their technical and clinical language.

On the plus side, the hospital admits that the overseas recruitment drive is paying dividends, because it is now using fewer temporary staff from agencies and saving hundreds of thousands of pounds.

A number of large Trusts regularly spend several million pounds every year on agency staff to cover shifts they cannot fill from their own staff bank.

The head of nurse’s union, the Royal College of Nursing, Dr Peter Carter, said: "Last year there were 57,000 applicants for 20,000 nurse training posts.

"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."

He added: "It's hugely regrettable and the UK is not exactly covering itself in glory in this."

But the organisation now in charge of nurse training, Health Education England, says it has increased places by 14% in two years.

A spokesperson said: "The number of nurses in the NHS is a matter of public and political comment, and HEE has responded to those concerns.

"HEE increased adult nurse commissions significantly in its first year and increased them again the following year.

"And we launched the Return to Practice campaign which has already started 1,300 experienced nurses on their journey back into the NHS. [Some] 160 of these have successfully completed training and are now employed."

Nursing agencies, such as Dolphin Care and Concept care Solutions have been supplying both temporary and permanent nurses to the NHS and private sector for many years.

A spokesman said: “The staffing crisis is similar to the shortages experiences in 1999-2000 when we recruited international nurses in their thousands from The Philippines and India.

“Whilst the initial cost may be high, international recruitment is a more permanent solution than using expensive agency staff, which the government wants to reduce.

“Of course we need to train more UK nurses for UK nursing jobs, but this will take years and in the meantime thousands of nurses are retiring, gaining promotion or going abroad to take higher paid jobs in the Middle East, Australia or the USA and Canada.”

Concept Care Solutions is on the LPP Framework to supply International nurses to the NHS. They are currently supplying nurses from Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and The Philippines.

No comments: