Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust is the latest to turn to Skype to help recruit nurses from abroad and tackle staffing shortages.
The trust announced it had successfully recruited 10 new staff nurses to work at its two acute hospitals - the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford - with some interviews using the video call system.
The announcement was made just days after the publication of the trust’s latest inspection report, which said it must do more to tackle variable staffing levels and a higher than average reliance on temporary staff.
Inspectors, who rated the trust “requires improvement” overall, called for a review of staffing across A&E critical care, labour ward and end-of-life services.
They found the trust was not meeting core standards for intensive care units or Royal College of Nursing guidelines on emergency department staffing levels.
Staffing levels were safe in medicine and surgery but there was “a heavy reliance on bank and agency staff due to the high number of vacancies and staff sickness in some areas”.
One ward at the Royal Shrewsbury had vacancies for six full-time nurses and a further three who would not be available to work for some time. “This was a significant proportion of staff, as the ward had 24 beds,” said the inspection report.
“We are also looking overseas and the use of technology, such as Skype, is an excellent way for us to do this in a cost effective manner”
Director of nursing Sarah Bloomfield said that like many other trusts her organisation was facing recruitment challenges but the organisation was determined to reduce its reliance on temporary and agency staff.
“We have been looking at a number of innovations we can introduce to recruit staff locally, across the UK and overseas,” she said.
“Last year we attended events in Staffordshire and Glasgow to raise our profile as an employer and we continue to look at ways to we can recruit in the UK.
“We are also looking overseas and the use of technology, such as Skype, is an excellent way for us to do this in a cost effective manner.”
The 10 new nurses come from Finland, Portugal and Spain. While some were interviewed on Skype, others were employed after face-to-face interviews with teams who travelled to Europe.
Five have already started work with the other five due to start early next month.
Next month a team will visit the Philippines to interview more candidates for nursing roles.
The trust is also seeking to attract former nurses who want to return to the profession and staged two drop-in events earlier this month.