Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is recruiting nurses from India and the Philippines in the light of a “marked reduction” in European Union staff coming to work in the UK.
The trust is seeking to recruit at least 200 nurses, including from overseas and the EU, as part of a major recruitment drive to tackle staffing shortages that have led to unplanned bed closures this year.
“We’ve seen a marked reduction in nurses joining us from EU countries over the last year”
A workforce report presented to the trust’s November board meeting shows that the trust is working with firm Your World Recruitment to find 100 extra theatre, ward and children’s nurses from outside Europe (see attached PDF below).
The trust confirmed to Nursing Times that a team spent a week visiting Delhi, Mumbai and Cochin in India at the beginning of October interviewing qualified nurses wishing to pursue a career in the UK.
Associate chief nurse Andrew Carter, who led the India recruitment drive, said the trust was looking overseas because of a drop in EU nurses coming to work in the UK in the wake of the Brexit vote.
“We’ve seen a marked reduction in nurses joining us from EU countries over the last year,” he said. “This means that it is more important now than ever before to search for talent both locally and further afield, ensuring that we have the highest possible calibre of staff to deliver excellent care to our patients.”
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While about 175 nurses from India have been offered jobs, the board papers show not all those are expected to take up posts.
“The national picture would suggest that 40% of these applicants will either choose not to accept or be unable to start due to the immigration processes and language checks,” said the report.
“However, the trust is working closely with the agency to ensure these candidates commence employment. When the applicants successfully achieve Nursing and Midwifery Council registration they will automatically obtain a registered nurse position at the trust.”
Mr Carter described the trip to India as a “great success”. “We are very pleased to have found so many talented nurses who have expressed an interest in working at OUH,” he said.
“We are hopeful that as many of those as possible will come on board, however, factors such as visa applications and the NMC English language test may result in a lesser number,” he noted.
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The first cohort of band 5 nurses from India is expected to start work at the trust in January and February, with 10 to 15 new nurses expected to join per month from then on, according to the board papers.
The report shows that the trust is also due to go to the Philippines to recruit, as well as continuing to recruit in Europe and strengthening efforts to secure home-grown nurses.
Details of the recruitment drive come as another report to the board shows staff shortages led to unplanned bed closures at three of the trust’s sites this year (see attached PDF below).
“Factors such as visa applications and the NMC English language test may result in a lesser number”
Shortages of ward staff led to closures at the Churchill Hospital and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, while shortages of theatre nurses led to the loss of operating sessions, particularly at the John Radcliffe, and had an impact on day cases and elective care across a number of specialities.
“Staffing vacancies have meant that safety-related bed closures have taken place at the trust’s three Headington sites since May,” said the performance report. “These have affected a range of services, including medical and surgical specialities, children’s and other services.”
The board papers show the trust is working with recruitment company TTM Healthcare to source 50 European nurses with interviews held in Madrid in September.
This saw 23 candidates get a conditional job offer with 14 due to start at the trust on 16 November in band 3 roles while they work on language skills and getting NMC registration. Further Skype interviews were due to take place this month.
Meanwhile, the trust attended a recruitment event in Dublin, which led to 100 expressions of interest. “All are now being followed up by the recruitment manager and matrons who attended,” said the report.
The trust is also looking to recruit nursing students from the University of Southampton, Buckinghamshire New University and the University of Staffordshire.
In addition, it is seeking to develop closer ties with local university Oxford Brookes, with a goal of returning to previous levels of recruiting 75% of the nursing graduates as opposed to just 50% at the moment.
“Staffing vacancies have meant that safety-related bed closures have taken place”
The papers said the trust was “working hard to present a welcoming face” to final year students and had revised and simplified recruitment processes to “take account of the fact that we already know these candidates well”.
The report shows an increase in the overall number of whole-time equivalent staff in the second quarter of this financial year – July to September. However, graduate intake of nursing and midwifery staff dropped by 50 when compared to the first quarter – April to June.
According to the report, the trust’s vacancy rate has improved from 9.7% in quarter 1 to 7.3% in quarter two – but this partly down to a reduction in establishments.
“This is due in part to the rise in staff and also the reduction in establishments that were enacted in month four,” said the report. “Between month three and month four, the establishment has reduced by 275 whole time equivalents.”
Turnover has fallen slightly and is currently at 14.7%. “High turnover levels are still being experienced across many staff groups and bands, and within particular teams, which is a cause for concern and further attention to understand the root causes,” said the report.