Almost half the intake of nurses recruited from Spain and Portugal by a trust in the South West have resigned, highlighting a wider problem in the region of retaining staff from overseas.
In common with many trusts across the country, Plymouth Hospitals Trust has been actively recruiting staff from overseas to fill vacancies due to a national shortage of nurses in the UK. Over the past 12 months it has carried out recruitment campaigns in Portugal, Italy and Spain.
But notes from a board meeting held earlier this summer revealed that 18 out of 43 overseas nurses the trust recruited have now left.
“There were a number of reasons as to why some of the nurses from Spain and Portugal decided to leave us. We’re aware that distance to a nearby airport was one of the reasons”
The trust’s director of human resources Hein Scheffer said the lack of a local airport had been cited by some of the staff who had decided to leave. A number of the nurses have moved to Bristol, which has an airport that provides direct flights to the Iberian peninsula, he said.
However, he added that a more recent recruitment effort had resulted in 32 nurses from Spain and Italy being employed by the trust.
Greg Dix, director of nursing for Plymouth Hospitals Trust, said: “There were a number of reasons as to why some of the nurses from Spain and Portugal, who were recruited during our first recruitment drive, decided to leave us.
“We’re aware that distance to a nearby airport was one of the reasons, however, we also recognise there were others factors too, including additional support and mentoring, which we have now strengthened further,” he said in a statement.
The Royal College of Nursing’s branch in the South West said many trusts in the region were experiencing difficulties in holding onto staff recruited from abroad. It said anecdotal evidence suggested nurses from overseas were not staying for long before moving to other countries.
Lynn Batson, RCN senior officer for Devon and Cornwall, said: “Many of the trusts in the South West are finding it difficult to recruit the nurses they need and are having to travel further afield a fill vacant posts.”
Most trusts have so far targeted Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland for new recruits.
But University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust announced last week that 26 nurses from Greece and Cypress were set to join before Christmas and it was considering travelling to Croatia in search of theatre nurses.