West Suffolk: Hospital recruits 40 Portuguese nurses

Nichole Day (executive chief nurse)

Nichole Day (executive chief nurse) - Credit: Contributed

A SHORTAGE of registered UK nurses has forced a Suffolk hospital to go on a recruitment drive in Portugal, where there is an “excess” of qualified nurses.

West Suffolk Hospital’s 1,000-strong nursing team – of which just 60% are registered nurses – is set to be boosted by 40 new Portuguese recruits, who will arrive at the hospital in two groups over the next two months.

It is hoped they will help fill existing vacancies and reduce spending on bank and agency staff.

A spokesman said the first of the Portuguese nurses would begin an induction programme in February with the remaining group set to boost the hospital’s busy wards from March.

They are expected to work across all areas of the hospital and will be used to replace bank and agency nurses, and help staff additional capacity that has been opened to manage winter pressures.

The recruits will work alongside West Suffolk’s newly qualified student nurses, all of whom have also been offered jobs.

According to the spokesman, when the hospital was having difficulty finding new recruits, they took advice from a national agency and were told that Portugal had more qualified nurses than it needed. Nursing qualifications in Portugal are also very similar to those in the UK, which makes it easier to register them with the National Medical Council.

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Executive chief nurse at the hospital, Nichole Day, said: “Like many other hospitals, we have found it difficult to recruit staff due to a shortage of registered nurses coming through the system.

“We looked to Portugal instead and are delighted that our recruitment drive was such a success. We have recruited 40 very high calibre nurses with excellent communication skills and look forward to welcoming them onto our wards.”

In Portugal, nurses complete a four-year degree course, with the final nine months spent working in an acute hospital. Ms Day continued: “They have excellent care skills and particular expertise in the care of older people, which is ideal for the population we serve. They will also bring new ideas and new experiences to our wards.

“The nurses will be used to staff additional capacity which has been opened to cope with winter pressures.”

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