Hundreds of Aussie nurses are on their way to work at Bedford Hospital

Hundreds of Aussie nurses have been persuaded to give up the pleasures of the blazing antipodean sun in favour of… Bedford.

Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 3:44 pm
Bedford Hospital

A Bedford Borough Council committee was told that Bedford Hospital has turned around a nursing shortage of “about 24 per cent” six months ago to about 11 per cent expected after Christmas.

“But that does not take into account our most successful recruitment campaign in Australia,” said Deirdre Fowler, the director of nursing at Bedford Hospital, at Monday’s meeting of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

“We offered posts to 237 nurses, which will see us have a surplus when those nurses fall into place. And the first of those nurses start to arrive in December. So it’s a very positive outlook from a nursing perspective,” she added.

A hospital spokesperson confirmed, after the meeting, that the hospital has made provisional offers of employment to 237 Aussie nurses, which is dependent on pre-employment checks. And they are expected to take up their employment in batches over the next 12 to 18 months.

The new recruits won’t be thrown into the deep end, Diedre Fowler explained. They can expect to be “double rostered” with other staff to orient themselves first.

She also said the hospital had been carrying out extensive recruitment in the UK, as well as having a successful “grow your own” policy for nurses.

Hospital chief executive Stephen Conroy said there had been successes in doctor recruitment, too, including with A&E consultants. “We recruited two today,” he said on Monday.

But problems remain in recruiting some specialists, including in cancer diagnosis. “That’s my biggest worry,” he said, adding it was “generally a good picture.”

Cllr Abu Sultan (Lab, Cauldwell), asked 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 this year because they were expecting Brexit on March 31.

“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 all have to return, which they don’t because there is an agreement, no particular area is at risk.”