An Essex hospital trust has been criticised by one of its own staff for recruiting Spanish nurses, barely two months after it was criticised over patient safety concerns in a major review.
A nurse at Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust has claimed that most of the Spanish nurses recruited to fill a staffing shortage there “have poor English and can’t read the drugs chart”.
The trust has refuted the claims, which were made anonymously in a local newspaper.
It was one of 14 trusts with higher than expected mortality rates that were investigated earlier this year by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.
Sir Bruce’s team noted in their report that the trust was recruiting more nurses but warned that staff felt they were not always listened to and there was a lack of response to patient safety concerns.
The nurse was quoted as saying most of the nurses recruited from Spain, of which around 70 are currently being integrated, “have poor English and can’t read the drugs charts and can’t give out the drugs”.
“We have to have extra staff nurses in to help them,” she told the Colchester Daily Gazette. “They are not allowed to work alone – they are like students.”
A spokesman for the trust said the Spanish recruits needed “time to acclimatise to our systems and protocols”, and as a result had been allocated a senior nurse as a “buddy”.
“Even though these recruits are all senior nurses, they are treated as newly-qualified nurses and supervised at all times until they can be signed off as having achieved all the necessary competencies,” he said.
The spokesman added that the recruits had to pass both an English test and a drugs calculation test before being considered for employment – stating that the nurses from Spain “performed extremely strongly” on drugs calculation.
He called on the nurse who had spoken to the paper “to raise their concerns with their ward sister or matron” or use the trust’s confidential “raising concerns” helpline.
“We would have thought that the nurse will be pleased for patients that the trust has taken on additional nurses, regardless of where they come from,” he added.
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