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Croydon University Hospital recruits 38 nurses from Italy but 230 posts remained unfilled

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CROYDON University Hospital has recruited 38 nurses from Italy as it looks to address ongoing staff shortages.

Eighteen of the Italian nurses began work this month and a further 20 will start in January.

The London Road hospital has among the highest nurse vacancy rates in London, with around 230 unfilled posts, from junior healthcare assistants to senior ward sisters and matrons.

Hundreds of positions have gone unfilled despite a recruitment drive funded by Croydon Health Services, the trust which runs the hospital, posting a £6.8 million deficit budget last year.

That allowed the trust to create the equivalent of 149 extra full-time staff in the last two years but it has struggled to fill the positions.  

Like a number of hospitals in London, Croydon sought to address its staff shortage by looking overseas, recruiting nurses from the Republic of Ireland, Spain and, most recently Italy.

It interviewed more than 100 midwives over the summer, with 19 new members of staff having joined the trust and a further five currently going through clearance and quality checks.

The NHS has set a target of 90 per cent of nursing posts filled.

As of October Croydon University Hospital's vacancy rate was 17.3 per cent, though it employs around 120 more nurses than it did in 2012.

Michael Fanning, who joined the trust as interim director of nursing last week, said recruitment efforts would continue.

"We have more than 1,000 nurses working across Croydon - and in the past two years we have created 100 new nursing positions to help us offer the best care we can but, like many parts of the NHS we have struggled to fill all of these.

"We currently have around 230 nursing vacancies and are stepping up our search for new recruits."

Mr Fanning added: "Like other trusts, we have gone out to EU countries to find nurses with the skills, experience and attitude to complement our existing staff."

He said the trust was working with nearby universities to attract new graduates and were trying to encourage nurses who had left the profession to come back.

The nurses shortage has created intense competition but Mr Fanning believes Croydon had attract top candidates, despite its relatively poor reputation.

"We want people with a passion to care and a real determination to do their very best for people in the borough," he said.

"If you want to be supported to deliver the highest standards of care, then come to Croydon and we will help you progress through your nursing career.

"I am very happy to speak with any nurse who is considering an investment in their career in Croydon."

Research by the Royal College of Nursing shows that London's staff shortage is increasing, with more than 8,000 nursing posts unfilled. 

A report, published this week, showed 14 per cent of posts in the capital are vacant, up from 11 per cent in 2013. 

All but four trusts have vacancy rates in double figures, well over the national average of seven per cent.

Bernell Bussue, regional director for London at the Royal College of Nursing, there was an "inescapable link" between "staffing levels, skill mix and patient safety". 

Croydon University Hospital recruits 38 nurses from Italy but 230 posts remained unfilled


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