Gloucestershire Hospitals was one of about 15 NHS trusts to declare a major incident back in January due to overcrowding and at one ward in Cheltenham hospital, there were just two nurses looking after 30 patients. The trust has now hired 200 nurses from the Philippines having failed to recruit any from the UK.
Across the NHS experts say that as many as one in 20 nursing posts is currently vacant which is equivalent to 20,000 nurses. The shortfall is caused by a 2010 Government cut in the number of training places meaning there are fewer UK nurses coming through.
Gloucestershire Hospitals serve over 612,000 patients and is looking to appoint dozens more nurses from Spain, Portugal and India over the coming months.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said at the time:
“The last couple of years have seen increasingly desperate attempts to plug the gap with more nurses from overseas, who have undoubtedly made a huge contribution and kept the NHS afloat.
“We have also seen an increase in the number of nurses being trained at our hospitals as part of their degree, but there is a three-year time lapse.”
Some experts believe the increasing reliance on foreign nurses is a short-term fix. A recent investigation found that one in six overseas nurses are quitting within two years of arriving in the UK.
Councillor David Drew, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Stroud, Gloucestershire and a member of the Gloucestershire health scrutiny overview committee said:
“I suppose we can recruit from abroad but that is not sustainable in the long term.”