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Local health board in UK to recruit 900 overseas nurses, mostly Indians: Report

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London: A local health board in the UK could be recruiting as many as 900 nurses, mostly from Kerala, in the course of next four years to address workforce shortages, which is as high as 40 per cent in acute care and surgery.

The Swansea Bay University Health Board will hire 350 nurses from overseas in the current financial year, subject to approval by chief executive Mark Hackett, the BBC reported.

A board meeting heard that efforts were being made by the health board and the Welsh government to train and retain more homegrown staff.

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The health board employs nearly 4,200 nurses and midwives, with the report saying it had “1,322 nurses and midwives currently over the age of 51 that could retire very soon or over the next few years”.

According to the BBC report, the health board, which is responsible for NHS services in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, said it recruited from the Philippines, Africa and the Caribbean, as well as India.

It would cost about 4.7 million pounds to employ 350 overseas nurses in 2023-24, but this would save 1.5 million pounds in agency and nursing bank costs, the report said.

The report said overseas nurses were offered a Band 5 contract, with a starting salary of 27,055 pounds, but initially received a Band 4 wage until they completed their UK registration.

Band 5 roles are normally filled by newly-qualified nurses, who want to further their experience and skills in nursing.

The Band 4 team is required to support the surgical team.

The health board representatives recently went to Kochi, which led to the employment of 107 nurses, some with 15 years of experience, to help fill the void of Band 5 — filled by newly qualified nurses — within Swansea Bay.

The new recruits — a mixture of medical, surgical and theatre nurses — will start their new roles this month, according to a release by Swansea Bay University Health Board.

Following compliance checks and obtaining a visa, these nurses will face a four-week OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) training programme in the health board’s Nurse Education Training Suite based in Baglan HQ before sitting an exam to attain their Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration.

The decision to recruit specifically from India was based on the country’s high number of quality nurses.

“In countries such as India there is a surplus of trained nurses. Ethically, we can recruit from these countries as they are not being left short of quality nurses. Often, the nurses we interview have only been given 12-month contracts in their home countries, so they are also looking at more long-term commitments, which we can offer,” said Lynne Jones, Head of Nursing Education and Recruitment.

The Swansea Bay University Health Board covers a population of approximately 500,000 people and has a budget of 1.3 billion pounds.

The Health Board says it employs approximately 16,000 members of staff, 70 per cent of whom are involved in direct patient care.

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( With inputs from www.siasat.com )

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