Report suggests how to improve experience for overseas nurses in the NHS

A new report has made recommendations on how to improve the experiences of nurses recruited from overseas at a time of unprecedented demand for their services.

The report, built around research by the University of Huddersfield, was commissioned by NHS England (North East & Yorkshire) and surveyed 655 nurses from 33 countries to understand their motives for migration and their first four months’ experience of living and working in England.

girl in blue jacket holding red and silver ring

In recognition of the national health and care workforce shortage, international recruitment is being implemented across the NHS at size and scale. With the government target of 50,000 more NHS nurses by 2023/24 unlikely to be met by domestic recruitment, knowing more about the experiences of the 30,000 international nurses currently in the NHS is vital.

‘Some international nurses are having fabulous experiences, but some are not, so it is about learning from those experiences to help feed into policy,’ said Professor Joanne Garside, Strategic Director of the University’s Health and Wellbeing Academy.

‘There are national toolkits being developed that are using our findings to form some of their recommendations and actions.’

The research revealed that the population of international nurses is highly educated and vastly experienced, with career development and quality of life being the primary motivations for migration.

But many felt they were not being used in roles that matched their prior experience and qualifications, and that integration during their initial spell of employment was often found to be challenging. These and other factors from the research show why retaining international nurses is proving to be a challenge at a time when the NHS needs nursing staff more than ever.

Later in the year the university’s project team will publish further NHS regional commissioned research studies.

In the first, the team followed the continued experiences of international nurses through the first two years working in the NHS in England.

The second commission was to undertake an observational study of NHS Horizons’ ‘Stay and Thrive’ project. This centred on a ‘community of action’ and introduced the evolving evidence base, case study presentations and accounts from international colleagues. Conversations were held between a broad range of participants working on the challenge of international retention at local organisational, regional, and national levels.

Image: Patty Brito


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