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Portuguese nurses to fill 'shortage' at East Anglian trust

West Suffolk Hospital has recruited 40 nurses from Portugal, citing a shortage of registered nurses in Britain.

The Bury St Edmunds hospital said it needed the staffing reinforcements for additional winter capacity. The nurses are set to arrive in the country in February and March.

Executive chief nurse Nicola Day said the hospital had encountered recruitment difficulties because a “shortage of registered nurses coming through the system”.

Currently the hospital said it has 1,000 nurses, with 60% of them being qualified at registered grades.

Ms Day stated that the nurses from Portugal had all completed a four-year degree, spending the final nine months working in an acute hospital.

They will fill existing vacancies and reduce spending on bank and agency staff, she added.

But Karen Webb, Eastern regional director of the Royal College of Nursing, said the trust’s decision was the result of attempts to cut NHS costs by training more unregistered nurses.

She said: “I don’t doubt these Portuguese nurses will be excellent, but in our experience they will not stay in Bury St Edmunds, so it’s not a long-term solution.”

A Department of Health spokesperson disputed that there was a national shortage of nurses, claiming that almost 2,500 more nurses began working in the NHS last October.

But they added: “It is up to trusts to recruit and ensure they have appropriate levels of staff. If they cannot recruit enough staff locally they may opt to seek nurses from further afield.

“Nurses from abroad have made a very valuable contribution to NHS patient care. However, they should only work in the NHS if they have proven their competence and language skills.”

Readers' comments (8)

  • Shortage of UK nurses?! Tell that to the staff who've lost jobs, been redeployed, downbanded, seen the numbers on their unit cut, newly qualified unable to find posts that will support their preceptorship..... (See Frontline First).

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  • Can someone explain what an "unregistered nurse" is? The piece states that the hospital in question has 1000 nurses 60% of whom are registered. If someone is not registered that person is not a nurse nor may they be described as such.

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  • What a load of tosh. There are more than enough qua;ified nurses in the UK looking for full time work.
    What they mean is they want to employ nurses at the lowest pay rate possible. They want to employ nurses that they can 'control' in a way that UK nurses would never agree to. ie work in all the difficult to staff areas - for whatever reason.
    Every hospital has areas or wards that no one wants to work in. Usually because of the managment 'style'.

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  • oh well, looks like permanent exile in Europe. I know where I am wanted, appreciated and generously rewarded and enjoy working with my highly qualified and excellent Portuguese nursing colleagues and friends!

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  • Phillipe Cook | 26-Jan-2013 10:31 am

    The Press Association seem to get quite a few of their facts wrong in nursing articles such as devises instead of devices and a patient dying from toxicology! This is their third error recently.

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  • it might work in the hospital's favour. Enough nurses trained and qualified in Portugal could help raise standards.

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  • Outrageous blog 7.39 most errors relate directly to communication and most patient satisfaction relates to the ability to communicate with patients with difficulties in hearing or understanding. Overseas recruitment is always a double edged sword as well as a short term measure - most go home after 2 years.

    Why do HEE/LETBs not realise we need to commission more nurse places and invest in skilling up the exisiting workforce asap?

    We are heading for yet another nurse shortage and HCAs are not the whole solution

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  • Outrageous blog 7.39

    not at all. you are obviously hypersensitive to the issue. I have worked for 30 years in a multi-national hospital where language causing break downs in communication and resultant errors was never an issue. I worked with Portuguese nurses who are very highly trained, competent and have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. An English doctor working there in A&E and is still learning the local language, but without any special aptitude for it, also said recently on the world radio service that it was not a problem.

    in my view the British in the UK complicate everything including EU laws as they are resistant to change and the acceptance of anything new and have a very narrow and unaccepting world view especially where foreigners are concerned. welcome them and learn from them as well as sharing your knowledge with them. a congenial atmosphere where one welcomes and integrates people's differences is a far more productive one which benefits everybody and enhances patient care.

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