Northern Ireland

NI health: Job offers made to 500 overseas nurses

Nurses walking in a hospital Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption An acute shortage of nurses in Northern Ireland had led to four separate international recruitment drives

The Department of Health has said job offers have been made to more than 500 nurses from overseas to take up employment across Northern Ireland's five health trusts.

An acute shortage of nurses in Northern Ireland had led to four separate international recruitment drives.

A total of 488 jobs have been offered to nurses from the Philippines.

Thirty-five offers were made to nurses from Italy and seven to nurses from Romania.

Nurses appointed from the Philippines will be distributed across all five trusts. Appointees from Italy will go to the Western, Southern and Belfast Trusts, with those from Romania going to the Belfast and South Eastern Trusts.

The Department of Health said that initially the nurses would be employed as healthcare assistants while they complete the necessary registration process with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

"Once registered with the NMC, the nurses will be placed in posts to fill existing vacancies which are within the system currently/imminently," the department added.

"The HSC Trusts are exploring a variety of accommodation options, including existing Trust accommodation, student accommodation and rented accommodation."

Earlier, an appeal was made to help find accommodation for hundreds of overseas nurses due to take up jobs across Northern Ireland.

The Department for Communities has placed an advert in its weekly newsletter appealing for landlords to get in touch.

The recruitment drive has been prompted by an acute shortage of nurses.

According to the advert, the new staff have been offered permanent contracts across Northern Ireland's five health trusts.

It also states they will be supported in obtaining National Insurance numbers and bank accounts as soon as they arrive.

In February, the BBC revealed there were more than 850 nursing vacancies in four of the trusts.

In the last two years nursing vacancies at the Southern Health Trust went up by 1,000% from 19 to 226. The Belfast Health Trust was reporting about 500 available nursing positions.

The advert states that while accommodation is required across Northern Ireland, the most urgent need is in the Belfast area.

The Royal College of Nursing has said overseas recruitment has been necessary as there has been a serious failure by the Department of Health in local workforce planning.

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