Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedford Hospital: More than 200 Australian nurses recruited

Bedford Hospital A&E department
Image caption The first of 237 nurses will start to arrive to work at Bedford Hospital in December

Some 237 Australian nurses are due to arrive at a UK hospital after a successful recruitment campaign.

The first are due to start work at Bedford Hospital in December, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Bedford Borough councillors have been told that will leave the hospital in surplus after a nursing shortage.

Hospital chief executive Stephen Conroy said nearly all its Spanish nurses left in February, with uncertainty over Brexit being blamed.

The council's health overview and scrutiny committee heard the NHS hospital had turned around a nursing shortage of "about 24%" six months ago.

'Positive outlook'

Deirdre Fowler, director of nursing at the hospital, said: "It's a very positive outlook from a nursing perspective."

She said they could expect to be "double-rostered" with other staff at first to orientate themselves.

She added that the hospital had been carrying out extensive recruitment in the UK, as well as having a successful "grow your own" policy for nurses.

Labour councillor Abu Sultan asked Mr Conroy if a no-deal Brexit for the UK's departure from the European Union at the end of October could change the situation with hospital staffing.

Mr Conroy said: "Almost all our Spanish nurses left by February, because they were expecting Brexit on 31 March.

"We've mapped all our European staff, and which departments they are in.

"They are spread evenly across the organisation, so there is no risk if they all did return [to their home countries], which they don't because there is an agreement. No particular area is at risk."

A hospital spokesperson said the offers of work to the 237 Australian nurses were provisional and dependent on pre-employment checks.

They were expected to take up their posts in batches over the next 12-18 months.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites