Overseas hiring spree planned for care homes in England amid winter fears

Government plans to boost staff numbers with more foreign workers, with NHS managers sent abroad to recruit

Foreign workers could be recruited for care homes in England under government plans amid concerns about staff shortages this winter.

The health secretary, Steve Barclay, wants the overseas recruitment spree to include sending NHS managers to countries such as India and the Philippines to hire thousands of nurses, the Times reported.

The paper added that Barclay was also looking to make it easier for regulators to check international qualifications so that staff could begin working more quickly.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our new international recruitment taskforce is considering innovative ways to boost staffing numbers within health and adult social care. As part of this, we will work with the sector and recruitment experts to examine how to recruit staff from overseas more effectively into adult social care.”

Two weeks ago concerns were expressed over NHS staffing in England after analysis of workforce figures found that the health service may be becoming over-reliant on recruits from abroad.

Figures from NHS Digital showed that the share of healthcare staff recruited from overseas almost doubled between 2014 and 2021, according to BBC analysis.

Danny Mortimer, the chief executive of NHS Employers, at the time called for urgent action from the government to tackle “chronic staff shortages in the longer term”.

He said: “International recruits have always been an important component of the NHS workforce. We recognise and highly value the contribution our overseas staff make to our teams and the care we provide to our patients.

“International recruitment should be seen as one part of a multistrand approach to workforce planning, and the government’s code of practice for international recruitment helps employers ensure they are adhering to ethical recruitment practices.

“While there is also a focus on growing and retaining the domestic workforce, we can’t escape the fact that there are 105,000 vacancies in the NHS and 165,000 vacancies in social care. We are in need of urgent action and the new prime minister must commit to publishing a fully costed and funded workforce plan to tackle chronic staff shortages in the longer term.”

That call was echoed by Dr Kitty Mohan, the chair of the international committee at the British Medical Society, who said the NHS did not have enough staff.

“The simple fact is that we do not have enough doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff to meet the growing and increasingly complex healthcare needs of our population,” Mohan said. “We are calling for the government and NHS England to publish a long-term workforce strategy as soon as possible.”


Jamie Grierson

The GuardianTramp

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