West Suffolk: English lessons for hospital staff


- Credit: PA

HOSPITAL bosses are laying on English lessons to more than 80 staff to help boost their language skills.

News of the lessons at West Suffolk Hospital, which cost an average of £1,000 a year, comes after a recruitment drive in Portugal due to a shortage of qualified nurses in the UK

The hospital, whose staff are made up of 53 nationalities from Angola to Afghanistan, said the classes are offered to all staff irrespective of job role or origins.

According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, 82 members of staff have been enrolled for lessons over the past three years - with 40 of them coming from Britain.

The biggest take-up came in 2011 to 2012 when 50 staff took part in the lessons at a cost of £1,400 to the hospital. Last year 16 people signed up, leaving hospital bosses with a bill of £960.

All staff qualified to practice in the UK are required to complete a national English exam, whether an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) qualification, a GCSE or an A-level. All staff undertaking apprenticeships or foundation degrees is required, as part of the qualification, to undertake English Functional Skills to a GCSE equivalent level.

According to the information provided by the hospital, the biggest proportion of staff making use of the lessons were healthcare assistants, which include nursing assistants and midwifery assistants. Over the three years ten nurses have also brushed up on their English skills.

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A spokeswoman for West Suffolk Hospital said: “We are pleased to be able to support staff in this way and appreciate the importance of our staff being able to communicate effectively with patients, visitors and their colleagues.”

Figures released in a separate Freedom of Information request show that the vast majority of staff at the Hardwick Lane - 2,386 - site are British. The second largest nationality recorded is Indian, accounting for 95 workers with 50 members of staff hailing from the Philippines.

In January this year the East Anglian Daily Times revealed how 40 new nurses from Portugal would arrive in staggered groups this year.

A hospital spokeswoman said an agency advised them to recruit in Portugal due to the similarity of qualifications.

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