A hospital in Somerset has recruited more than 2,000 nurses from overseas with staff deployed across primary and secondary services in the county, Nursing in Practice’s sister publication Healthcare Leader can reveal.
Led by Yeovil District Hospital, the ongoing campaign has seen staff recruited from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, India and the Philippines, since 2018.
The nurses are hired into various health and care services, including acute hospitals, care homes, and community hospitals, Somerset ICB confirmed to Healthcare Leader.
Yeovil District Hospital manages the end-to-end process – from interviews to deployment – virtually via Zoom and through ‘in-country recruitment events’ to ensure candidates are able to reach the hospital easily.
The hospital is responsible for international recruitment for most NHS organisations and care homes in Somerset, and manages the process on behalf of the service being recruited for. It also supports more than 15 other trusts around the country.
Other trusts around the country also have overseas recruitment drives, although these operate on a much smaller scale.
Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals’ international recruitment programme – which has been running for three years – has seen 200 international nurses from Australia, India and the Philippines join as permanent members of staff in specialist clinical areas.
So far this year, the drive at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – facilitated by a recruitment partner – has seen 128 registered nurses hired, with 7 anaesthetic practitioners appointed and awaiting deployment.
And since April 2021, East Kent Hospitals has recruited 474 international nurses through its programme.
Workforce data shows that international recruitment makes up 34% of the NHS nursing workforce in England as of 2021, up from 18% of the workforce in 2015.
Speaking to Healthcare Leader, Somerset ICB chief executive Jonathan Higman said recruitment in the area has been ‘the biggest challenge’ since the Board gained statutory footing in July.
He said: ‘We often have good solutions, but the challenge is of course always “where are we going to get the people from?”. So to answer that we’ve had quite an active overseas international recruitment process, developed out of Yeovil District Hospital. Historically, it was focused on Dubai, because they train international nurses.’
The ICB also confirmed it was looking at recruiting into its community nursing services, but this has been more challenging as candidates need to be able to drive in the UK.
And in Yorkshire and Humber, chief executive Professor Stephen Eames said the ICB and NHS England were looking to recruit staff from Kerala, an Indian state.
In August, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warned that the Government’s overseas recruitment guidelines are a step in the right direction but lack clarity over how they will be enforced, leaving recruits at the mercy of ‘rogue employers’.