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Overseas recruitment of nurses to rise amid fears over shortages

The majority of HR directors plan to ramp up the recruitment of nurses this year as many admit their organisations lack the staff to meet demand.

Senior managers responding to a survey carried out by Nursing Times’ sister title HSJ have also revealed plans to recruit staff from overseas due to UK shortages.


The survey reveals the impact on HR departments of the Francis report into the Mid Staffordshire scandal and the subsequent focus on patient safety.

Almost 90% of HR managers have reviewed their whistleblowing policies since February 2013 and 36% reported a rise in whistleblowing.

Just over half of respondents said they were not convinced their organisation had sufficient staffing levels and 69% said they expected to increase nursing numbers over the year. This rose to 91 per cent for acute trusts.

Last year Nursing Times revealed a third of acute trusts had been forced to recruit from overseas to fill nursing vacancies.

This trend looks set to continue with more than half of respondents to the survey saying they planned to recruit staff from overseas over the next 12 months. This again rose for acute trusts - to 82%.

The majority planned to recruit nurses and doctors from Spain, Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Italy as well as further afield.

Among those increasing staff, nearly a quarter said they aimed to fill more than 50 jobs.

The barometer also revealed a perception of worsening staff morale among HR directors compared with the previous survey in May 2013. Eighteen per cent said morale was poor or very poor compared with 12 per cent last May.

Readers' comments (18)

  • I am confused not too long ago student nurses were qualifying and could not find a job so how comes all these vacancies. I can only come up with two conclusions either some of those people who went into nursing found out the job was harder and with more responsibility than they realise or people went overseas to nurse/or changed careers.

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  • If NHS England made the provision of Student Nursing more attractive, either through easier access to nurse training or by offering student nurses on degree courses better financial packages then I think more people at home in this country would consider nursing as a career. At present the only financial incentive is that the university tuition fees are paid for by the NHS and a small means tested bursary is available to some students. How about recruiting student nurses on a decent training salary and having them train at specific NHS hospital trusts who can then offer the successfully qualified nurses jobs at the end of their training? It could be something to think about.

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  • michael stone

    Isn't it remarkable, how suddenly [post Francis] hospitals have noticed that not having enough staff, might be an issue !

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  • We've seen an entirely predictable - and, therefore, avoidable - and lamentable failure of workforce planning. The Government oversaw widespread cuts in nursing numbers in a short-sighted attempt to save money, leaving some newly-qualifieds with no prospect of a job. Having now been shamed into increasing the numbers - not least because the CQC, under its more instrusive inspection regime, is finding many hospital wards understaffed - the Government is trying to reverse the cuts, giving the green light for trusts to recruit. But, in the meantime, it has overseen a reduction in nurse training places, again to save money. So, now, there aren't enough newly-qualifieds to fill the vacant posts. It's about as incompetent as it's possible to be.

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  • I rather to go and work in Middle East they offer double to our salary,free housing,free international school for the children,free airline tax at all....

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  • I suppose it is not a coincidence that hospitals take on nurses from overseas who are experienced but are paid lowest grade for a band 5. Obviously they would rather employ them than pay the same wage to a newly qualified and inexperienced nurse who trained here. Is this government policy I wonder, after all why train our own if we can cover posts better anyway!

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  • I have worked with newly trained nurses from this country and also with experienced nurses from outside the UK.
    I have had to help both groups. I have found that, the experienced overseas nurses it is mainly about their language skills and they tend to learn that fast.
    It is understandable that the newly qualified from this country do not tend to cope as well, simply as they are newly qualified.
    I feel that there is not sufficient support for newly qualified so many suffer from stress and anxiety. One very good newly qualified I know cannot wait to fly of to Australia after having the required experience. I wonder how many more home grown we are losing that way.

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  • Everywhere wants instant experienced nurses and not willing to develop newly qualified nurses. Not surprising when they can pay overseas nurses bottom rate pay if they can get away with it.
    When overseas nurses gain their language skills, they skills and experience would be even more marketable in the global economy.
    Its very short sighted not to look after and reward home-grown nurses appropriately. Far easier to work everyone to the bone and burn staff out.

    When you see so many bank and agency staff, isn't it tempting to become one yourself, earning more to do the same jobs.

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  • as soon as the Eurozone economy improves, if it ever does, all of those nurses will be going back to where they are appreciated as autonomous professionals, treated with respect, and with better working conditions and a more agreeable way of life and where their families are. I cannot imagine, once they have mastered the language, they will wish to linger. most are also too highly qualified for ward work in the NHS. You better have trained enough UK nurses to fill the future gap!

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  • Isn't it time Nurses were respected for being professional ,capable, and skilled and deserving of a salary commensurate with their skills and knowledge,

    There was a time when this was so, why not now,

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  • lawyers, like many others, are also professionals. they would not put up with this treatment!

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  • Maybe someone needs to admit that the changes to nurse training were obviously so wrong, and we need to return to the Schools of Nursing.

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  • Anonymous | 7-Jun-2014 8:45 pm

    and fall further back behind the times?
    the UK is about the only country in Europe and among other developed countries not to have an all degree training for nurses. you can't continue to call nursing profession without higher level education.

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  • How can you fall further back, when you cannot meet the demands placed upon nursing right now!
    How is having a degree and placing high entry requirements on students, going to help the NHS in the next 5 years!
    Calling something a profession means nothing. So I cant be a nurse anymore because I don't have a degree, regardless of the fact I've worked as an ICU nurse for 25 years.
    Personally, I'm sick and tired of having to train too many new grad nurses of today basic nursing care, like bathing a patient, and how to wipe a bum, and how to spike an IV bag. WTF have they been doing for 4 years?

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  • Anon 9/6 7:05
    It is important for nurses whether grad or not to know how to give patients a bath and wipe a bum.
    This is where we should have the help of the clinical nurse tutor to work on the floor with the students nurses and teach them on the ward.
    Wards are depending on very busy nurses to teach student nurses which slows down the nurses down and cause the nurse mentors to go off later on their shifts without pay. Nurse mentors are getting fustrated, this rubs off on the poor student nurses and then when these students qualify they have another hurdle, that is, there is no support from a clinical tutor to give a contination of required support.
    If we Neglect student nurses and do not have a good structure for their development, then we will always be in a quick fix situation and deplete other countries of their nurses. Also this has a major effect on our young people's decision on entering nursing. If our young people refuse to go into nursing, this is a sad lost for us all.

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  • Bring back hands on nursing as a nurse and a patient very little registered nurse time is actually spent with the patient and utilised in doing paper work and meeting targets I spent 36hours in hospital and seen a registed nurse for a total of 11 miu and that invovoled giving me medication

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  • Anonymous | 9-Jun-2014 7:05 am

    Calling something a profession means nothing. So I cant be a nurse anymore because I don't have a degree, regardless of the fact I've worked as an ICU nurse for 25 years.
    Personally, I'm sick and tired of having to train too many new grad nurses of today basic nursing care, like bathing a patient, and how to wipe a bum, and how to spike an IV bag. WTF have they been doing for 4 years?
    I agree Anon - exactly WTF have they been doing, learning. It is obvious that being able to call yourself a professional means absolutely nothing - not to the patient anyway. It is a case of not wanting to stoop so low as to actually have to nurse a patient that has caused the problems.
    See where it has landed us.

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  • a cultural shock arriving at a british hospital to nurse. how many will stay when they see the reality of the conditions? the recruitment have doubtless offered them some attractive carrots to get them there!

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