More than 100 Australian nurses are due to come and work in the North East of Scotland, as part of an initiative to help staff deemed surplus “Down Under” into employment and to help tackle nurse shortages in the Grampian region.
NHS Grampian has announced that 105 nurses from Australia, comprising 92 new graduates and 13 more experienced staff, have been offered and accepted positions in the Scottish region.
“To have more than 100 qualified nurses lined up already is fantastic news”
The health board has been working closely with the Western Australian government to offer the positions to newly qualified nurses in the city of Perth who are struggling to find a job.
The pioneering international recruitment initiative, led by NHS Grampian, also aims to help the current shortage of nurses in Scotland.
Director of nursing at NHS Grampian, Caroline Hiscox, described the effort as the first time a health board in Scotland had address the overall nursing shortage by targeting newly qualified nurses in Australia in this way.
According to the health board, this year alone 1,100 of the 1,600 newly qualified nurses in Western Australia were unable to find a post on graduating.
As a result, a unique nurse programme between NHS Grampian and the Western Australia Department of Health will be offered in Scotland.
In November last year, a team of nursing and recruitment staff from the health board made a 10,000 mile trip to Perth. At the time, staff reported that they had been “overwhelmed” by the interest of nurses in coming to work in Scotland.
Ms Hiscox said: “This is the first time a health board in this country has tried to address the overall nursing shortage by targeting newly qualified Australian nurses in this way.
“There was a risk attached – as with all innovations – but the benefits for both organisations have been fantastic,” she noted.
“It’s been a lot of work for the team involved but the results are now beginning to speak for themselves,” she said. “To have more than 100 qualified nurses lined up already is fantastic news – both for us as an organisation but, most importantly, for our patients.”
“We already have the first of Australian nurses settled in and working here and we hope that we can welcome a new cohort next month”
Ms Hiscox cautioned that the process would still take some time before healthcare services in the North East would see the full benefits.
“We already have the first of Australian nurses settled in and working here and we hope that we can welcome a new cohort next month, but it will take some time for people to clear the immigration and professional standards process,” she said.
“Moving to the other side of the world is also not an easy step to take, so the team are also working closely with all of the individual applicants to try and make that as smooth as possible,” she added.
Earlier this week, a special welcome for the new recruits was hosted by the Western Australian Government in which some of their new Grampian colleagues joined via video link.
Susan Coull, interim director of workforce for NHS Grampian, said: “It was great to see everyone together as a group for the first time and to give them a ‘virtual’ welcome, answer their questions and help people get further acquainted with Grampian.
“Since November, the team have carried out extensive interviews with the interested candidates and we are delighted with the number of people who have accepted our offer,” she explained.
Ms Coull highlighted that the health board was particularly pleased with the standard of applicants, who she described as “really well trained” and with 1,000 hours of practice and three years of training in a health system similar to theirs.
“We are also really looking forward to building on the progress that’s been made and will continue to develop our relationship with Western Australia to see how we can continue to work together,” she added.
A video welcome between the nurses in Australia and staff at NHS Grampian was held earlier this week