A few weeks ago, it was reported that the first batch of the 200 Filipino nurses who were offered jobs at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, England, failed to meet the language requirement for the job. Only 12 percent, or seven out of 59 nurses who took up the language examinations passed. They will be able to start working later this year.

UK hospital chiefs have expressed their disappointment over such strict requirement. Having said that, a strong command of the English language remains a vital skill for nurses who will work in UK hospitals to ensure they can communicate well with patients and not put them in danger.

500 nurses needed in Leicester

The city of Leicester, England faces similar staffing struggles on the nursing department—to the point that they are considering filling the posts with outside recruits.

“We have got a scenario where we have 500 vacancies and that is likely to grow,” Julie Smith, chief nurse at University Hospital of Leicester (UHL) NHS Trust, told the Health Service Journal.

According to Smith, nurses in Leicester are doing tasks beyond their roles, such as cleaning of bed spaces and giving out cups of tea.

"It might be that we replace a nurse with a pharmacist or a physio, I do not know yet. It depends on the level of care and the type of wards they are on,” said Smith of a plan called ‘Tomorrow’s Ward’.

"When we know what the boundaries for the nursing associates' scope of practice will be, it may be that on some of our wards, we do say we can have a different ratio of registered nurses," Smith adds.

Tomorrow’s Ward

UHL clarified that conceptualising ‘Tomorrow’s Ward’ has no intention of undermining the value of the nursing profession.

“Our ‘Tomorrow’s Ward’ concept is being designed by our clinical teams to examine the needs of patients ward by ward, to see which roles, including other allied health professions such as pharmacists and therapists, are needed to deliver safe, high quality care,” said a spokesman for UHL.

"To be clear, this is not an exercise to save costs or reduce the number of registered nurses from our workforce, but we have to have an appropriate team around the patient that delivers care to the level they require at all times."

The Brexit Effect

Brexit has also taken its toll on the healthcare workforce, according to Leicester Hospitals chief executive, John Adler.

He said that previously, Leicester had around 440 EU nurses and only 207 of them remained in the workforce.

“We cannot keep doing what we have always done and need to look at the diversity of roles we need to make up a ward team, such as nursing associate roles,” Adler adds. MIMS

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