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07.05.19

NHS set to launch global recruitment strategy to bring in thousands of foreign nurses

The NHS is set to begin a global recruitment drive to recruit tens of thousands of foreign nurses over the next five years in a bid to fill a void of 40,000 skilled workers.

According to the staffing strategy, seen by The Times, NHS Improvement is targeting 5,000 new foreign nurses every year until 2024 to fill the widely reported NHS workforce crisis.

The report says the NHS needs to rapidly increase international recruitment, and that recruitment undertaken by individual hospitals could be centralised on a regional level with the help of national guidance on hiring staff from abroad.

The strategy acknowledges that the current workforce is overworked and overstretched and is being driven out of the profession, which was the message from the BMA in a report last month warning that eight out of 10 doctors are at substantial risk of a burnout.

Despite an international hiring campaign, the plan concedes that there is little chance of ending the shortages in the next five years, and estimates that the planned changes will reduce the shortfall to 38,800 by 2024.

Baroness Dido Harding, chair of NHS Improvement, confirmed the reports, but said the interim plan was still being written and was due to be published shortly.

“Staff are the NHS’s biggest asset and to deliver on the promises of the Long-Term Plan, the whole NHS must do more to support the frontline as it faces record patient demand.

“Focusing on our people, their working environment, career development and ways of working isn’t a nice to have, its critical to the success of the NHS.”

The NHS employs 1.3 million people but currently has around 100,000 vacancies and this is expected to grow, although Baroness Harding has been tasked with producing the workforce strategy as part of the NHS Long-Term Plan.

Last year, around 1,600 foreign nurses were added to the NHS workforce and Harding wants to up this to 5,000 a year as “we will need to increase international recruitment to secure additional supply rapidly.”

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