Addenbrooke’s chief criticises recruitment levels which has increased need to look abroad

Addenbrooke's Hospital

Addenbrooke's Hospital - Credit: Archant

The man in charge of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Dr Keith McNeil, has described having to recruit large numbers of nurses from overseas as “distracting, frustrating and expensive”.

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust took on 303 foreign nurses in the past year. Half were from the Philippines - with significant numbers from Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Speaking to BBC News, Dr McNeil, the trust’s chief executive, said: “Nurses are the backbone of the NHS. You can’t run services effectively in an acute hospital like this without adequate numbers of trained nursing staff.

“It’s distracting, frustrating and expensive to do international recruitment. It would be nice not to have to do it... [and] to have a more targeted approach.”

Addenbrooke’s believes it costs £3,000 to recruit each nurse from elsewhere in the EU.


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New arrivals are given their first month’s accommodation and also £400, so long as they stay for 18 months. They are also sent on a language course if they need to boost their English.

The Cambridge hospital believes the big recruitment drive is paying off, because it is now using fewer temporary staff from agencies.

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He added: “We don’t have enough home-grown nurses, but we know the demographics. The health service has to figure out what resources are needed for our activity. We need proper planning; I think the people at Health Education England are doing that now.

“At least doing it now means avoiding having to do this in the years to come.”

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