Nurses from Europe and other parts of the world often look to the UK as a potentially attractive destination in which they can further their professional ambitions and gain valuable experience working in one of the world's leading healthcare systems.
With demand for capable nursing staff in the NHS at its highest for some time, now could be the ideal time for those interested in making the move to the UK to look into the openings available.
A changing marketplace
In March 2014, a Nursing Standard investigation revealed that NHS trusts in England have spent at least £2.5 million recruiting nurses from overseas in the past two years.
Almost half of the 112 trusts surveyed by the publication said they had hired staff from overseas during 2012/13 and 2013/14, hiring 2,500 nurses from countries including Spain, Portugal and the Philippines.
In total, it is estimated that there are up to 34,000 vacancies for international healthcare professionals available in Britain at the moment, and the number of overseas nurses working in the NHS has doubled in the last three years.
A Royal College of Nursing survey (2013) also suggested that one in five trusts - or 22 per cent - had sent staff overseas for recruitment purposes, further underlining how widespread this movement has become.
What is driving the increase?
The main reason for this rising demand is a persistent national shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals in the UK, a situation compounded by growing demands for the NHS to evolve to provide 24/7 care.
Demands on the country's health service are also widely expected to grow in the years to come. The average age of the population is increasing year on year, meaning the number of patients with complex chronic conditions will rise, while conditions such as obesity, diabetes and dementia are all forecast to become more prevalent than ever.
As such, more positions are being filled by international healthcare candidates – including qualified doctors, registered nurses and midwives - and as the NHS undergoes further reforms to facilitate access to care, the number of jobs available to experienced and talented overseas professionals will only increase further.
How can Medacs Healthcare help?
For nurses looking to take advantage of the growing number of work opportunities available in the UK, Medacs Healthcare can provide a comprehensive level of support.
As a leading international healthcare recruitment agency, Medacs Healthcare facilitates relocation packages to the UK (on behalf of our NHS clients) for hundreds of nurses every year. At present, the majority are European nurses, seeking more favourable economic, professional and pay conditions, but based on their specific requirements, some trusts also choose to recruit from further afield, including countries like India and the Philippines.
The recruitment process
Potential applicants are interviewed by company representatives at events in their home countries and go through a rigorous assessment process to ensure they can be matched with the right job. As language skills are crucial, Medacs Healthcare also offers a clinical English course to help international nurses ensure their skills are relevant and meet the requisite industry standard.
Once they arrive in the UK, the nurses are fully supported throughout their relocation process with inductions at the hospital itself, accommodation provided nearby and a wide range of activities planned to help them settle in to British life. Each nurse is assigned a dedicated consultant and a ‘buddy’ (usually a pre-placed nurse from their own country who works in the same hospital) as a familiar source of help and advice. To ease the transition, their consultants also support them with other aspects of daily living in the UK; such as opening a bank account, registering with a GP and navigating local transport links.
Deirdre Phillips, operations manager for permanent recruitment at Medacs Healthcare, said: "The NHS is presently facing a significant shortfall of qualified nurses and so is increasingly looking to Western and Eastern Europe to plug the gap.
"We support the nurses we place in NHS trusts very closely and the overwhelming majority are delighted with their new UK roles. In addition to better pay, they get many other benefits that aren’t provided as standard in their home countries, such as paid time off for study and specialist skill training”.
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