NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Australian nurses fill Scots shortages after NHS Grampian recruitment drive

Australian nurses
Image caption A wave of Australian nurses have been lured to Aberdeen

Almost 100 Australian nurses could be working in hospitals in the north east of Scotland by the end of the year after a successful recruitment drive to tackle shortages.

Some - mainly graduate nurses - have already arrived in Aberdeen from Western Australia, and more are expected to follow next month.

NHS Grampian made the move due to an oversupply of graduates in Australia.

They are said to be drawn by the offer of permanent contracts.

NHS Grampian had sent a delegation to Australia to sell the idea of moving to Scotland to work.

The nurses need to sit a computer-based test before they leave Australia, then have to be registered in the UK.

They then sit a clinical-bases skills assessment, before being free to work.

Bridget Smith, one of the nurses who has just arrived, said: "I have recently just passed, I am over the moon, I am getting ready to settle in now that the last hurdle is done.

"Let's see how it goes, I know I am here for at least two years which is awesome, and I have got a longer visa so I am just going to go with the flow. I think I am going to love it."

'Great thing to do'

Leesa Kerr is the principal workforce advisor for the department of health's nursing and midwifery office in Western Australia.

She told BBC Scotland: "We develop quite a high calibre of nursing staff, and NHS Grampian approached us as they had an undersupply of nurses.

"We actually had an oversupply of graduate nurses coming out, so what that meant was we didn't have enough places in our health services to actually provide a graduate programme for them.

"Some of them we would have been lost to the profession, so what we thought was that it would be a really good collaborative to help the workforce over here.

"We have about 2,500 nurses come out each year and unfortunately we have about 700 places available, so about one in three get a position. So this was a great thing to do."

She explained of future potential recruits: "I think they are waiting for the trail-blazers to come over and see what it's really like.

"I am sure they (NHS Grampian) will be flooded when they come back for recruitment in November.

"It's a lovely place, Aberdeen is gorgeous, the staff at NHS Grampian have been more than accommodating, the cohort that are here sing the praises of everybody."

Image caption Leesa Kerr expects interest in the posts to continue to grow back in Australia

Asked of the lure of Scotland over the Australian sunshine, she said: "They are getting a permanent contract here, which we don't offer in Australia. As a graduate you just get a 12-month contract and then you have to start that process of looking for a job again.

"Plus, you're on the doorstep to Europe."

Jane Ewen, chief nurse in professional practice, workforce and education with NHS Grampian, said of the latest recruits: "Absolutely delighted for them, they have worked so hard, it's been a real journey for them.

"We have got many more to come hopefully."

She added: "We had read a lot around the oversupply of nurses out in Australia so thought, let's do something a little bit different.

"I think this is just the beginning."

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