A HOSPITAL boss has defended the decision to recruit nurses from the Irish Republic at a time when NHS staff nationally fear massive job losses.
Almost 30 Irish nurses have been taken on by Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester.
Sixteen have already started, with 12 more joining at the end of the month.
Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), recently said at least 27,000 NHS posts faced the axe, with “many more” at risk from government spending cuts.
Helen Wigginton, RCN regional communications officer, said nurses were very concerned about their jobs.
Recruitment of foreign nurses would become an issue if trusts made home-trained nurses redundant to cut costs.
Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, said: “Our first priority is to make sure our hospitals are fully staffed with well trained nurses.
“If there is a short-term shortage of nurses locally I hope that in the future priority will be given to recruiting local staff wherever possible.”
Jane Farrell, chief operating officer of the trust, said: high demand for nursing staff was creating competition among south coast hospitals recruiting qualified nursing staff, leading to a shortage.
Like many other NHS trusts in the area, Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust had been experiencing difficulties in recruiting qualified nurses locally.
“Due to this competition and the shortage of nursing staff in the region, the trust took the decision to recruit from within the European Economic Area.
“Ireland was identified due to its good reputation in providing a high standard of teaching through the four-year nurse degree course at Irish universities.”
Managers interviewing the nurses in Dublin were impressed by their quality.
Worthing Hospital previously recruited Filipino nurses but tighter immigration restrictions had made it more difficult to recruit foreign staff from outside the EU.