International nurses from India and the Philippines have joined the burgeoning ranks at Lincolnshire hospitals to help boost frontline staff numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 53 overseas nurses have now started work at Lincoln and Boston hospitals as part of a huge recruitment drive at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT).
The initiative builds on previous international recruitment drives at the Trust, in partnership with NHS England/Improvement and Health Education England’s Global Leaner Programme, as part of the national NHS People Plan which aims to support and retain existing staff, whilst also significantly increasing the number of newly qualified nurses into the NHS.
Paula McIntosh, ULHT’s International On-boarding Lead Nurse said although the programme had a slightly delayed start – things are looking much more positive this year.
“The intention was to have a cohort of international nurses arriving at the Trust in March last year but unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic caused the programme to be put on hold for several months,” said Paula.
“We re-commenced after the first lock down when travel restrictions were eased with 11 nurses joining from India and the Philippines in August and September 2020.
“All successfully gained their UK nursing registrations and have started work in theatres and A&E at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston and on wards at Lincoln County Hospital.”
A further two cohorts of international nurses from the same countries arrived in October 2020 and February 2021 respectively, with another four cohorts expected to hit wards and departments over the coming months.
Each nurse is required to undertake an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) at one of three Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) regulated test centres.
The On-boarding and Clinical Education teams at ULHT have also been facilitating, teaching and supporting the nurses to prepare for their examinations.
Once passed and completed the nurses can then apply to join the NMC register and go on to work as registered nurses within the UK.
“ULHT use recruitment agencies to identify nurses wishing to apply to come and work in Lincolnshire. The nurses are interviewed by ULHT remotely online and if appointable they are offered a job subject to the usual checks including references and criminal records,” added Paula.
“The nurses then apply for a visa, with the recruitment agency assisting with the requirements, process and all the logistics of travelling to the UK.
“There are many different departments within ULHT which contribute to the recruitment and on-boarding of the international nurses, from human resources and recruitment, through to occupational health, linen room staff and systems IT services who helped keep us in constant communication with the nurses whilst they were in quarantine throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a great programme which allows overseas nurses with varying levels of experience, skills and knowledge, to get the opportunity to fulfil their wishes of re-locating to the UK and in particular Lincolnshire.
“It allows them to pursue their personal ambitions and further their professional nursing careers. At the same time ULHT is increasing its nursing workforce to continually strive for safe, quality care for all our patients.”