SaTH’s international recruitment journey started in 2019 when we joined forces with the HEE global learners’ project. This provided recruitment support and expertise, as well as funding, to attract registered nurses from the international community to fill outstanding Band 5 vacancies, across the Princess Royal and Royal Shrewsbury Hospitals. Nursing continues to be a difficult to recruit to occupation, especially in Shropshire, and as a result is on the shortage occupation list, meaning the Trust needs to think differently and creatively in order to recruit to outstanding vacancies.
Skype interviews were set up in May 2019, with prospective candidates from India, in the first instance, and our first cohort of six nurses arrived in November 2019. We concurrently recruited a team of professional development nurses to deliver the skills training required to support the international nurses through the objective structured clinical exam (OSCE), required for completion of their application to join the NMC register. The first cohort took their OSCE exams in January and February 2020, respectively, and all passed at first or second attempt.
We have subsequently had a further 9 cohorts of nurses, steadily increasing in size and resulting in 200 substantive nurses in the clinical area. The Trust pass rate for OSCE is currently 93% for first attempt and 100% for second attempt set against a national average of approximately 80%. Whilst the majority of nurses from the first project were from India, we welcomed three nurses from Nigeria in cohort 8.
Following on from the success of the first project and, in order to continue to fill outstanding vacancies, we commenced the second GLP project, aiming to recruit a further 200 nurses. Again interviews were carried out via skype, with the first cohort of the second project arriving in May 2021. Due to the Covid pandemic in India, the first cohort were small and consisted predominantly of African nurses from Nigeria and Ghana. These nurses will take OSCE in August.
As a result of lessons learned from the first project, we have recruited three professional development nurses who are responsible for supporting the smooth transition from OSCE programme to clinical area, providing support and guidance to both the nurses and Trust staff. We are also supporting the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital by providing OSCE preparation to two small cohorts of international nurses, one of which arrived in July and another expected in September.
Whilst our recruitment strategy includes the stream from HEE, we have provided OSCE preparation to friends and family of those nurses who have successfully joined us and we have also just interviewed a cohort of internal HCAs, who hold international registration, enabling them to fulfil their aspirations of becoming RNs.
We plan to start work on the next business case for international recruitment in September 2021. International nurses enrich our workforce and bring diversity to Shropshire’s NHS, which is both exciting and refreshing. It is something we will continue to do for the foreseeable future.