A total of 40 registered nurses from Portugal have been recruited by West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.
The new nurses will be assigned to take the place of agency and bank staff, to cover hospital vacancies and to enable the hospital to cope with its seasonal additional capacity.
The nurses will also be working with student nurses at West Suffolk who have just attained their qualifications and have all been offered positions at the hospital.
The hospital’s executive chief nurse, Nichole Day, commented on the recruitment process: “Like many other hospitals, we have found it difficult to recruit staff due to a shortage of registered nurses coming through the system.
“We looked to Portugal instead and are delighted that our recruitment drive was such a success. We have recruited 40 very high calibre nurses with excellent communication skills and look forward to welcoming them onto our wards.
“In Portugal, nurses complete a four year degree course, with the final nine months spent working in an acute hospital. They have excellent care skills and particular expertise in the care of older people, which is ideal for the population we serve. They will also bring new ideas and new experiences to our wards.”
Ms Day explained how the new nurses would enable the hospital to handle its added capacity, which was instigated to help the community cope with the added pressures of winter.
“They will also help us fill existing vacancies while further reducing our spending on bank and agency staff,” Ms Day said.
The nurses from Portugal will come to Suffolk in two groups, the first of which begins its introduction procedures in February. The second group starts next month.
The 40 newly recruited registered nurses will join the 1,000-member nursing staff at West Suffolk Hospital. Of the total, 60 per cent are qualified as registered nurses.