NHS Scotland recruit nearly 200 overseas nurses

Posted: 6th June 2022

Scotland’s hospitals have hired 191 nurses from countries including India and the Philippines to help the NHS through “unprecedented challenges”, the health secretary has announced.

Humza Yousaf said agreements were in place with recruitment agencies to hire a further 203 nurses from overseas.

More than 1,000 new support staff have also been hired to work in acute hospitals and community health teams.

However, opposition parties have called the SNP’s NHS plans “inadequate”.

Scottish Labour described the recruitment as “last-minute raids”.

The Scottish Conservatives accused the SNP of “presiding over a shocking shortfall of vacancies in our health service during their time in power”.

An the Scottish Lib Dems said, while any new recruitment was to be welcomed, the situation in the health service “remains desperate”.

The moves are part of funding packages totalling £19.5m announced last year.

It comes after the spending watchdog Audit Scotland warned Scotland’s NHS faces major staff recruitment and retention challenges as it emerges from the Covid pandemic.

A report published by the agency in February said the health service remained on an emergency footing as patient waiting lists soared.

It also said the health service would require reform if it is to be financially sustainable.

Mr Yousaf said staff numbers were likely to increase significantly over the coming months as health boards take advantage of new infrastructure for employing qualified international staff.

He described the pandemic as “the biggest shock our NHS has faced in its 73-year existence”.

“To help deal with winter pressures and pressure brought on by the current Covid wave, we are expanding and investing in our NHS workforce,” the health secretary said.

“In October, we set ambitious targets to boost the number of healthcare support staff and step up international nurse recruitment.

“I am delighted with the success of the recruitment campaigns and seeing the new staff already providing frontline patient care.”

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‘We’re excited to get started’

NHS Dumfries and Galloway has welcomed its first cohort of four International nurses to the region.

Their arrival marks the start of a year-long campaign to recruit 40 nurses from overseas.

The nurses – Shincy, Sonja, Yafika and Vidya – will now go through eight to 12 weeks of training to secure their UK NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) registration before they can fully practice.

NHS D&G said they will then be based at the community hospital at Mountainhall.

Shincy said: “On Saturday we were shown around Dumfries and met some lovely people from the Multicultural Association who kindly gave us a food parcel and a warm coat.

“It has made us feel really welcome and we are really excited to be here and get started.”

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About 156,000 whole-time equivalent staff were working for the health service in Scotland at the end of December, according to NHS Workforce statistics.

Mr Yousaf added: “Scotland has the best-paid NHS staff in the UK and record workforce levels. We are determined to continue this progress as we recover from the pandemic.

“Our National Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care commits to understanding how we can achieve a more sustainable, skilled workforce which makes careers in health and social care – at all levels – more attractive.”

The Scottish government said it had provided £1m for the development of infrastructure for an ethical international recruitment system.

This is in line with the Scottish Code of Practice for health and social care personnel, which brings individuals “with valuable skills and experiences” to Scotland.

Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie accused the SNP government of trying to “paper over their own failure to properly train and recruit staff in Scotland by raiding the healthcare systems of other nations”.

She added: “Staff from across the world make up the backbone of our NHS, and I wish these new health professionals well as they settle in to their new homes.

“Our NHS is under phenomenal pressure but this SNP government has failed time and time again to ensure that we have enough staff to weather the storm.

“It was the SNP that have presided over 6,600 nursing vacancies and slashed the number of nurse training places despite being warned about the consequences.”

‘Breaking point’

Scottish Conservative spokeswoman Sue Webber said: “The SNP have presided over a shocking shortfall of vacancies in our health service during their time in power. They are now patting themselves on the back for playing catch-up when it comes to recruitment.

“Frontline staff have gone above and beyond during the pandemic but are beyond breaking point. Any additional staff is welcome for our health service, but we need to see more urgency from SNP ministers.

“A&E waiting times are out of control, the backlog for patient treatment is ever growing and vacancy levels among our nursing and midwifery sector are now in the thousands.

“Too many patients are suffering as a result of the SNP’s inadequate NHS recovery plans and that needs to change urgently.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Under this SNP/Green government there are record numbers of vacancies in every corner of the NHS. Any new staff will therefore be welcomed by their colleagues with open arms but the situation remains desperate.

“Without fresh action to retain existing staff every plan to recruit new staff, treat people quickly and curtail the backlogs will fall flat.

“Staff on the frontline need extra protection, patients need new hope and everyone needs ministers who are focused on what really matters right now. They should be busy drawing up new plans to ramp up NHS recruitment, instead they’ve got top officials working on independence.”

Source-NHS Scotland recruit nearly 200 overseas nurses – BBC News

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