A report by Chris Ord for The Oxford Mail.
DOZENS of international nurses have been welcomed into Oxfordshires’s hospitals as health bosses continue to look further afield to tackle frontline staffing shortages.
Oxford University Hospitals held a special ceremony with chief executive Dr Bruno Holthof greeting nearly 40 new recruits from across India, the Philippines, the Caribbean, Middle East, Africa and the US.
Oxfordshire’s hospitals have struggled to fill frontline nursing vacancies for several years – a situation made even more desperate with recruitment from the EU falling by half since the referendum in 2016.
And with Brexit now just weeks away, trust chiefs are looking to step up their international recruitment drive aiming to bring in 200 more foreign nurses by 2021.
Over the last year 70 international nurses in total have started work at OUH which runs the John Radcliffe Hospital, the Churchill Hospital and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (NOC) in Oxford, as well as the Horton General Hospital in Banbury.
Dr Holthof said: “It was a pleasure to meet the wonderful new international nurses we have recruited.
“They have settled in admirably well, are assets to the trust, and will help us provide the best possible care to our patients.
“Oxford has a fantastic reputation in welcoming people from all over the world, and we are proud of our success in recruiting these nurses.
“We look forward to welcoming more in the future.”
The trust’s international recruitment campaign began in 2018 and has been celebrated as a success with recruiters visiting India twice and the Philippines once.
A third visit to India is planned in March while Skype interviews to the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and the USA are carried out on a monthly basis.
More than 140 job offers were made during the team’s last visit to India, though not all of those offered a job will come to work in Oxfordshire with immigration requirements needing to be met prior to entry to the UK.
Chief nurse at OUH Sam Foster said the campaign had resulted in experienced nurses being recruited in specialties such as operating theatres, and both adult and children’s intensive care.
Concerns have previously been raised over OUH’s campaign to recruit nurses from areas such as India or the Philippines, however the trust has said it is abiding by Foreign Office rules so that British NHS trusts do not leave foreign health services depleted.
In January the Oxford Mail revealed how Brexit had impacted on nursing recruitment and retention with figures from OUH showing that new starters arriving from the European Union to work at the county’s acute hospitals have fallen from 809 in 2015/16 to 395 in 2017/18, while the number of those leaving the trust grew from 230 in 2015/16 to 386 in 2017/18.