SEVERE staff shortages have led to hospital bosses recruiting nurses from India via video interviews.
South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT), like many healthcare providers nationwide, has struggled to recruit nurses in recent years.
Attempts to combat the shortage has seen bosses recruit nurses from the EU – which saw 45 staff hired – and even call on paramedics to work on wards.
But the trust is still breaching national guidelines for nurse numbers, which recommend one nurse to eight patients during the day, and one to ten patients overnight.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) – which advises the Department of Health – says fewer nurses than that puts the patient at ‘increased risk of harm’.
But in March there were more than 140 breaches on 11 of Warwick Hospital’s 21 wards, excluding maternity and labour.
The trust’s latest initiative to boost nursing numbers has seen 12 staff employed from India, with the first of the new nursing recruits set to arrive at the end of this month.
They will join the trust’s some 1,600 nurses which work at the trust’s Warwick, Stratford, Leamington and Shipston hospitals and out and about in the community.
A trust spokesman said: “We are currently undertaking a programme of recruiting nurses from India.
“The initial contact and interview is being undertaken via video call because this is a cost effective way of doing it.
“We have a comprehensive strategy to attract and recruit nurses within the UK, however we need to supplement this with the recruitment of nurses from overseas. The reason for this is due to the shortage of registered nurses nationally compared with the number of current vacancies in the NHS.
“As part of the NHS long term plan, it recommended trust’s consider international recruitment in co-ordination in the recruitment of staff domestically.”
The trust fills gaps in nursing by using zero hour contract and agency staff and says it works to keep existing staff by supporting training and development opportunities to ‘fulfill career ambitions’.
Last year it spent nearly £6million on agency staff.
Warwick Hospital consultant Chris Hetherington, who is clinical director of emergency medicine, previously called on the Prime Minister to release more funding for urgent care in hospitals which would help fund extra staff.
He was one of some 60 consultants to sign a letter representing the hospital they worked at. The letter said there were ‘serious concerns for patient safety’ because the health service was short-staffed and under-funded.
When the letter was sent last year, Theresa May said improvements had already been made since her government had come to power in 2010.