Nurses from Jamaica are to be targeted as potential recruits for the health service, the government has revealed, in its latest move to try and help mitigate the UK’s nursing recruitment crisis by looking overseas.
A new partnership will see the nurses work in the NHS for three years to gain skills and experience to take back to the Jamaican health system, said the Department for Health and Social Care today.
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The new partnership is an extension of the existing “earn, learn and return” scheme, which has already seen Indian nurses come to work for the NHS for a set period of time, as previously reported.
Those behind the scheme, which was revealed in November, that they hoped that 5,500 international nurses would eventually be recruited from India and potentially the Philippines.
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The department said today that the nurses from Jamaica would undertake UK work placements, facilitated by Health Education England, in areas such as emergency medicine and intensive care.
They will go back to Jamaica to “share their new skills, knowledge and experience” with their own healthcare system, said the department in a statement announcing the partnership.
In return, NHS staff would be given the opportunity to travel to Jamaica to share their expertise with the Jamaican health service and help them to improve their care, it suggested.
It stated that the aim of the scheme was to “support” the Jamaican government in improving the “capability and capacity” of its nursing workforce.
In addition, it said the partnership would lead to the establishment a network of professionals from both countries who would “continue to share learning and knowledge beyond the scheme itself”.
As reported by Nursing Times over the last 18 months, the UK has been hit by a severe nurse recruitment crisis, with trusts unable to find enough staff to fill vacant nursing posts.
The NMC’s nursing register has also begun to shrink for the first time in many years, with Brexit and the scrapping of the bursary cited as the key factors driving the downward trend.
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Health minister Stephen Barclay said: “It is testament to the skills and expertise of our dedicated nurses that other countries are vying for their knowledge to help improve their own services.
“I’m delighted that we’re partnering with Jamaica in this scheme, which will build on our existing collaboration with India, and further demonstrates the government’s commitment to forging new international relationships in preparation for the UK to leave the European Union,” he said.
“This will also form part of the NHS’s commitment to supporting its staff to develop and progress their careers,” said Mr Barclay.
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“Offering global health placements within training programmes or as part of continual professional development has shown to have a positive impact on recruitment and retention of staff,” he added.
The government highlighted that all overseas nurses who came to work for the NHS would be required to meet the standards of the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
It also reiterated that it recently announced a 25% increase in UK nursing degree training places via funding provided for training placements.
The government no longer directly commissions course places, after its decision to replace the student bursary scheme with a system of loans, which has been followed by a fall in applicants.