Southampton MP says not enough English nurses are being trained

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A Southampton MP has described the recruitment of foreign nurses by his local hospital trust because of staff shortages as "daft".

A Freedom of Information request by Nursing Times found Southampton University Hospitals Trust was the largest overseas recruiter in England.

The trust said there was a "shortfall in the number of UK applicants" responding to a recruitment drive.

Labour MP John Denham said the situation was "absurd".

Last year the trust said it recruited 144 nurses from Portugal and Spain to join its "4,000 strong nursing workforce".

Mr Denham, MP for Southampton, Itchen, said: "While I am sure these Spanish and Portuguese nurses will do a great job, it seems daft that Southampton has to recruit abroad while local people can't get into nurse training.

"This situation is absurd and shows just how wrong the Tories are when it comes to the NHS."

He said the number of local nurse training places had been cut by 115 annually since 2010.

'Boom and bust'

Judy Gillow, director of nursing at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We extended our nursing and healthcare assistant recruitment drive overseas due to a shortfall in the number of UK applicants who responded to our local and national advertising campaigns last year.

"The 144 experienced and skilled Portuguese and Spanish nurses recruited during this process have integrated well into our 4,000-strong nursing workforce and have enabled us to ensure our wards are appropriately staffed ahead of what we expect will be a very busy winter period."

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said increasing overseas recruitment was "symptomatic" of the "short term, boom and bust workforce planning which is endemic in the NHS".

"It is frankly perplexing that on the one hand nursing posts are being cut and training places being reduced, while on the other desperate managers are raiding overseas workforces," he said.

Nursing Times carried out Freedom of Information requests during September to all 168 acute trusts in England, of which 105 supplied information.

The Department of Health was approached for comment but has yet to respond.

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