Addenbrooke's to recruit nurses and midwives in Europe
A hospital in Cambridge is to recruit nurses, midwives and other staff from across Europe to meet ward shortages.
Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where 200 more are needed, is asking existing staff to work extra shifts.
The Royal College of Nursing said it would be dangerous for the health of staff and patients if up to three extra shifts had to be worked per week.
The hospital said its campaign targeted experienced and newly qualified staff for all departments.
A hospital spokeswoman said: "Cambridge University Hospitals has launched a national recruitment campaign for nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.
"We are looking for staff across all clinical divisions and are finding creative ways of encouraging experienced nurses to consider Addenbrooke's as an opportunity to develop their career
"We are instigating a European recruitment programme."
English to be tested
As well as extra shift payments existing staff are said to have been offered shopping vouchers to persuade them to work longer hours.
Karen Webb from the Royal College of Nursing said: "I was not aware that we were entering an age of bartering to get employees to work.
"It is important that nurses, as professional people, are rewarded appropriately and adequately for their services to the NHS."
Steve Hand, director of operations at Addenbrooke's, said that the hospital needed about 200 extra staff to meet commitments to patients.
The hospital was looking for experienced nurses and had turned to Europe to seek them out, he said.
"We will carry out English tests but I do not think language is going to be an issue," he said.
Former NHS Trust chairman Roy Lilley said that many hospitals were setting up staff banks which were lists of people willing to do extra shifts.
Many experienced nurses in their 50s and 60s had taken early retirement because of the pressures in the NHS, he said.
There had also been about 1,000 job cuts in Cambridgeshire and this all added to the problem, he added.