Overseas nurses recruited to Weston General Hospital stranded in India

Weston General Hospital front entrance

Front entrance of Weston General Hospital - Credit: Weston Area Health NHS Trust

Weston hospital bosses are growing concerned for the welfare of overseas nurses who are stranded in India due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

Some 25 new recruits are awaiting confirmation they can fly from the country, which is currently on the UK’s red list as the Indian variant of the virus rapidly spreads. 

Sixty new nurses are set to join the team at Weston General Hospital by September from the UK and overseas, with 150 international nurses expected to join the wider trust by the end of 2021. 

The efforts were discussed in the wake of a Care Quality Commission report that found the hospital’s nursing shortages, worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, put patients and staff at risk. 

More: Report reveals staff shortages and leadership failures at Weston Hospital.

Updating the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Trust board on May 27, chief nurse Deirdre Fowler said: “We were expecting 60 new nurses to join the team at Weston by September. Twelve have already joined us from various international sources. There’s a sense of jubilation and such a huge welcome for them at Weston. 

“We’ve been impacted by India going on the red list but we anticipate we’ll still have 47 of those 60 nurses in place by September. We’re still waiting for some of the nurses who had tickets and visas to leave India but are finding it very difficult to get flights out. 

“We’re working with HEE (Health Education England) and other sources to source an alternative to India. 
“We’re very cautiously optimistic. Many of those 47 new nurses are from our local and national pipeline.”

A trust spokesperson said the nurses have been given assurances that their roles are secure. 

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Matthew Joint, the trust’s director of people, said: “When we’re looking at these international nurses, they’re so important to us. When we have 20-odd stranded in India it’s almost a welfare issue. We’re keeping in touch with them constantly. 

“They desperately want to be here. We want them here. The days of recruitment where you place an advert and people turn up for their first day are long gone.” 

Mr Joint said the trust’s vacancy rate was extremely low at four per cent but it needed to work on its retention rate, which was at 12 per cent. 

The trust continues to work with its EU staff to support their application to remain in the UK following Brexit. So far 400 employees have confirmed they have settled status, although it has not confirmed how many EU staff it employs. 
A spokesman said the trust has seen no effect of Brexit as yet.

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