Local health board in UK plans to hire hundreds of nurses from India

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Representational image | Photo: PTI

London: A local health board in Wales in the United Kingdom is planning to hire around 900 nurses from overseas over the next four years to plug its workforce shortages, with many of these nurses coming from Kerala.

According to BBC's 'Local Democracy Reporting Service', Swansea Bay University Health Board of the state-funded National Health Service Wales will get a total of 350 overseas nurses in the current financial year subject to approval by chief executive Mark Hackett. It is expected to cost about 4.7 million pounds to employ 350 overseas nurses in 2023-24, which would save 1.5 million pounds in agency and nursing bank costs.

Gareth Howells, director of nursing and patient experience at Swansea Bay health board, said overseas recruitment provided an "immediacy of really experienced staff".

According to the report, overseas nurses are offered a Band 5 contract, with a starting salary of 27,055 pounds, but initially receive a Band 4 lower wage until they complete their UK registration.

A board meeting was told that efforts were being made by the health board, which covers Swansea and Neath Port Talbot areas of Wales, and the Welsh government to train and retain more homegrown staff.

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".

The health board told the 'Local Democracy Reporting Service' that besides India, it recruited from the Philippines, Africa and the Caribbean. The overseas category also includes nurses from the European Union (EU), but the health board said it received "very few" EU applications.

It comes as Health Education England (HEE), part of the NHS in England and in charge of recruiting and training, had said earlier this year that it was working with the West Yorkshire Integrated Care System (WYICS) to develop "workforce relationships" in India for the northern England region.

A WYICS team recently held workforce related meetings with ministers in Kerala in collaboration with the Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants (ODEPC), a Thiruvananthapuram-based state government undertaking, and Kerala's Skills Council.

“HEE continues to work on developing relationships in India for doctors, nurses and other health professionals as part of our mandate to support the growth of the NHS workforce,” the HEE said.


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