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How one trust benefits from valuing and promoting overseas nurses

Belinda Alexander leads her organisation’s support of international staff, and says they deserve a warm welcome and ‘need to feel there is progression in their job’

Belinda Alexander leads her organisation’s support of international staff, and says they deserve a warm welcome and ‘need to feel there is progression in their job’

International nurses are being overlooked for promotion because of a failure to embrace their talent and recognise their skills, according to a recruitment lead.

Discussing challenges that the NHS faces in long-term retention of nurses from overseas, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust’s international recruitment lead Belinda Alexander said more needs to be done to welcome and support nurses starting new lives in the UK.

Fighting against a ‘reluctance to upgrade overseas nurses to senior posts’

She added that internationally trained nurses can be often missed for promotions as sometimes managers

Belinda Alexander leads her organisation’s support of international staff, and says they deserve a warm welcome and ‘need to feel there is progression in their job’

International recruitment lead Belinda Alexander

International nurses are being overlooked for promotion because of a failure to embrace their talent and recognise their skills, according to a recruitment lead.

Discussing challenges that the NHS faces in long-term retention of nurses from overseas, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust’s international recruitment lead Belinda Alexander said more needs to be done to welcome and support nurses starting new lives in the UK.

Fighting against a ‘reluctance to upgrade overseas nurses to senior posts’

She added that internationally trained nurses can be often missed for promotions as sometimes managers fail to see their value, or they see them as separate to the rest of the team.

‘There is a reluctance to upgrade them to senior posts,’ she told Nursing Standard.

‘In the past I have had to fight hard to get two of my nurses a promotion. Just like our domestic nurses, people need to feel there is progression in their job and that their skills are valued.’

Range of support offered to international recruits

Ms Alexander’s advice comes as international recruitment for nursing roles has rocketed over the past five years, with half (23,408) of new registrants on the Nursing and Midwifery Council register last year having trained overseas.

With this in mind Ms Alexander’s team has launched initiatives to support nurses when they arrive, including:

  • Paying rent for international recruits for the first three months.
  • Arranging a rent scheme with private agencies afterwards.
  • Offering 10 driving lessons and support with theory and practical tests.
  • Pairing up nurses together from similar backgrounds so they can support each other.

On the road to a better future

With many of the trust’s patients living in rural or remote areas, international nurses with driving licences need support gaining confidence driving on UK roads and in British weather, in order to fill the growing number of community vacancies.

‘Getting nurses to drive can be a real challenge. But once they do, it can give them so much freedom and help them not only at work, but with family life too,’ Ms Alexander said.

‘Not only that – we need to take an interest in their culture too. It’s not just a one-way street.

‘It all starts from the moment they arrive. We greet them at the airport and then they need a robust induction at work, just like all new starters. Care and support from the start will get the best results for everyone.’


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