Nurse shortage means hospital has to search Spain for new staff

A SHORTAGE of nurses means it s now cheaper – and more beneficial – for Hinchingbrooke Hospital to send SIX people to recruit in Spain than to pin their hopes of finding UK-based staff. The Hinchingbrooke team recruited 26 nurses, spending less than it wo

A SHORTAGE of nurses means it's now cheaper - and more beneficial - for Hinchingbrooke Hospital to send SIX people to recruit in Spain than to pin their hopes of finding UK-based staff.

The Hinchingbrooke team recruited 26 nurses, spending less than it would cost to launch a recruitment drive in the UK with little prospect of success, it emerged this week.

The hospital sent a team of senior nurses and human resources staff to Madrid to look for qualified nurses who have difficulty getting work in Spain.

The trip cost £30,000 - of which 80 per cent is made of fees to agencies - and netted 26 English-speaking nurses, with a further seven on a reserve list. They are due to start work in chilly Huntingdon in January.


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"Hinchingbrooke has advertised extensively in recent months, including advertisements in local press and national professional publications and recruited several new nurses through these channels," a spokesman said.

"However, the number of applications has dwindled and we now need to look elsewhere to fill our vacancies.

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"We decided to go to Spain to recruit, in common with neighbouring NHS trusts, which have already successfully recruited nurses there. Spain has a surfeit of nurses who have difficulty getting permanent jobs so are keen to work in England.

"To advertise extensively locally again would have cost the trust approximately £37,000 and would have no guarantee of success. The interview process in Madrid cost considerably less and has been an overwhelming success," she added.

"Spanish nurses are very highly skilled, but what has impressed the recruitment team was the enthusiasm all those interviewed had for nursing. We have taken great care to ensure that everyone we have offered positions to is qualified and has a good standard of English, by making the candidates undertake a series of rigorous tests and interviews during the selection process."

The Royal College of Nursing said there had been a significant drop in the number of pre-registration nursing and midwifery students over the past couple of years and a 27 per cent fall in the number of people applying for nursing and midwifery diploma courses in England. More than a quarter of people starting degree or diploma courses dropped out, a spokesman added.

More than one in three NHS community nurses was over 50, and one in five nurses in primary care - where there is growing demand - was over 55.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council said the Spanish recruits would have to register before being allowed to practise in the UK.

"It surprises me that there's a shortage of nurses, because there's a surplus in some parts of the country," a spokesman said. "But there is a shortage of midwives across the UK.

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