UK’s National Health Service Plans To Recruit Over 600 Nurses From Philippines, India

There is a reported shortage of about 1,500 nurses in Northern Ireland.


Staffing crisis at United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) does not seem to be getting over soon. Now, the NHS is planning to recruit more than 600 nurses from the Philippines and India to plug the shortage of staff in Northern Ireland, according to an announcement made on Jan. 15.

A shortage of medical staff is being felt all over Europe. Across the United Kingdom, there is a reported shortage of 40,000 nurses. In Northern Ireland, the shortfall is said to be 1,500. In view of current crisis, Charlotte McArdle, Northern Ireland’s chief nursing officer, was quoted in media reports as saying that a decision has been taken to launch an overseas recruitment program.

“Through that program we are hoping to recruit 622 nurses, mainly from the Philippines, with some from India, by 2020. We have a history with the Philippines, and to a lesser extent India, from the last shortage around 2000,” she said, the Tribune reported.

“We are running with just under 10 per cent vacancy levels. In the context of Northern Ireland we have probably in the region of between 15,000 and 17,000 posts and about 1,500 vacancies,” she added. “That is significant, but in the context of what is happening around us, it certainly isn’t as bad as what would be happening in England or the Republic of Ireland and it is probably on a par with Scotland and Wales. This year is going to be difficult in terms of nurse recruitment.”

McArdle emphasized that getting nurses in from overseas was only an temporary measure to wade through the difficult years. “The answer for us is to grow our own workforce,” she said. “We can’t be reliant on other places to do that for us. The overseas program is an interim step to help balance things while we get to the other side.”

The NHS crisis was pushed to the forefront with Brexit, as almost 10,000 nurses quit after the referendum.

This winter, a flu outbreak and amid shortage of staff is making things worse, and hospitals in the United Kingdom have announced “black alerts,” a sign that they were unable to deliver comprehensive care.

With non-urgent surgeries postponed and patients having to wait more than 12 hours in emergency wards before being attended to, undergraduate medical students are being asked to volunteer to help through the crisis, the Guardian reported. Medical schools are asking fourth- and fifth-year students for urgent assistance at nearby hospitals and GP surgeries, it added.

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