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UK – Portuguese nurses could ease NHS staff shortages

19 August 2013

Nurses could be drafted in from Portugal to ease the staffing crisis which is facing Queen’s Hospital and its sister sites, according to the Burton Mail. Severe shortages in the amount of qualified nurses have left Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust looking outside the country to recruit to the positions, many of which are currently filled by agency staff.

It comes after staffing issues were raised in the recent Keogh report, which found the shortage led to nurses working dangerously long shifts and could cause poor care to be provided to patients. The panel listed the issue among six urgent action points.

At the Trust’s latest Council of Governors’ meeting, chief executive Helen Ashley said: “They found excessive use of agency staff because we were unable to permanently fill some of these posts. We are having to look at this because we have no other alternative that is obviously available.”

Director of nursing Brendan Brown has been in discussion with an agency to source the nurses from Portugal, which has been chosen as the nursing ethos is similar to that of the UK. She added that it would be a priority for the nurses recruited to be able to communicate with patients.

Mrs Ashley stressed, however that the final decision had not yet been made.

Other changes were under way to try to recruit new staff and retain quality staff who are already there. The trust is also planning to ‘over-recruit’ newly-qualified nurses onto wards where there is a shortage, Mrs Ashley added, stating that she hoped these measures would allow issues to be resolved by Christmas.

These plans were already in place before the Keogh report, she told the council, but they had been expedited following the publication of the report in July.

When inspectors investigating the trust under the Keogh review visited the sites earlier this year, they found that staffing levels on some wards were inadequate, and the use of bank staff resulted in a lack of cohesion in teams.

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