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Overseas recruits take flight as trust loses half its new nurses


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”

Greg Dix

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.

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Greg Dix

“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.


Readers' comments (20)

  • Of course they don't stay! it's hardly a surprise is it? they get here and find just what it is like working for the NHS and they have a really big shock.

    We need home grown Nurses, so lets train the right amount, is it really that difficult?

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  • are they really surprised? what did they have to offer, and what did they actually offer these poor unsuspecting nurses? more wastage of vast sums of money instead of sorting out the recruitment crisis with lasting benefits to the NHS.

    If it takes 6 months to sort out recruitment for british nurses returning from abroad and telling them their experience which would be of great value to them is worthless it is hardly surprising, with better opportunities elsewhere, highly qualified and experienced british trained nurses are not going to hang around either! Ciao!

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  • these recruitment teams should go and speak to nurses and look at their employment conditions in other countries and then they may understand why they would not wish to stay with the NHS!

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  • We are undergraded and over burdened down here, we are paid some of the lowest Nursing salaries in the country, with some of the highest house prices. We are isolated from the rest of the country and the way we are treated at work demonstrates the arrogance that our managers have for us. They probably had the fright of their lives and
    moved to where they could afford to live.
    Not a surprise - maybe the HR dept should listen to some of their own staff to find out the facts.. oh no, that would never do. clinicians know nothing.. remember?

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  • Desperate Trusts are looking for quick-fixes, but the long run it is a good thing that the NHS learns these lessons. We are in an international market for labour and we need more British nurses to move abroad, in order to be able to benchmark T&C, make recruitment more efficient etc. in the NHS and drive them up.

    I think that Morecambe Bay might be barking up the wrong tree (Cypress!!)

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  • bringing fresh blood in the NHS would be a very positive thing but foreign nurses have to do everything the NHS way and then they leave because they are not treated as knowledgeable, experienced autonomous professionals.

    highly qualified, knowledgeable British nurses who have taken a different career route and worked abroad they don't want back as they have not gained their experience in the NHS and many of the nurses do not, with such treatment, wish to come back as they are too over-qualified to accept the very junior, and often rubbish jobs offered to them!

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  • Nurses' comments are pertinent and justified. However, we can hardly blame managers for trying to fill staffing gaps any way they can to reduce the load on existing staff. Plymouth has a particular problem in that communication links are not adequate for a large, modern city that is relatively remote from other centres. That is an issue that everyone should be campaigning on with local and central government - in addition to the appallingly low level of central government funding allocated to the city compared with the national average. It's time for Plymouth to wake up!

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  • We have a national nursing shortage set to get worse....... Safer staffing is fantastic but just where are we going to get the nurses from, we have to try to feel the gaps for the massive changes in nurse training & so many we cannot enroll to train due to everyone has to have a degree........
    Let's face it half of us trained in late 70s & 80s would not get into training now but it does not make us bad nurses, we are what is holding the NHS together at the moment but we are all knackered & many ready to walk. Patient safety & quality care mmmmmm that's what we were taught not targets.

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  • The stress of working as a nurse in NHS is overwhelming, what with targets to meet and ensuring that the quality of care for patients are not compromised and dealing with over expecting relatives. The overseas nurses, probably could not withstand the stress.
    That's why NHS should do all it can to look after its staff and encourage newly qualified nurses into the system.
    A good pay rise would be nice. Also a solid support network and educational development would boost staff morales.
    How often do you as a nurse get a thank you from your managers, after a day's hard work, especially when you have been very short staffed?
    The truth is that the nurses in UK are not appreciated for what they, thus the staffing problem will continue.

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  • it is fairly obvious all that is needed to recruit and retain high calibre staff in the NHS and provide them with the best 'tools' to do their job only sadly nobody is willing to provide it.

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