A model for skill and efficiency

Aside from addressing a shortfall in the nursing workforce, the arrival of Portuguese nurses to the UK – recruited during a sharp downturn in their home economy – has been enlightening.

careers-thumbIn 2007, 75 nurses from Spain and Portugal registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. By 2012, when the squeeze on nurse training places was becoming apparent here, that figure had risen to 1,060.

Since 2001, recruits to nursing in Portugal have undertaken a mandatory four-year undergraduate degree, with the final nine months spent in an acute hospital.

Reports from hospitals that have recruited Portuguese nurses suggest these professionals arrive with good language and interpersonal skills, and superior technical know-how.

At qualification, they are able to administer intravenous therapy, undertake cannulation and insert nasogastric tubes. In the UK, some nurses acquire these skills after qualification.

How much better for patients and staff it would be if all nurses were taught to carry out these tasks as routine, and from day of registration.

About the author

Frances Pickersgill is Nursing Standard’s careers editor