WARDS left empty following the controversial transfer of services from Hartlepool to Stockton are being used to train up dozens of Filipino nurses.
Following the switch of some services from the University Hospital of Hartlepool to the University of North Tees, in Stockton, large sections of the Holdforth Road site have remained empty.
But it has emerged that a vacant section of wards at Hartlepool are being used as a training base for 34 Filipino nurses to learn the ropes before they are transferred to work in Stockton.
Health trusts across the country have struggled to recruit local nursing staff, and as well as being trained medically the Filipino trainees are also undergoing English language lessons before they will be legally allowed to move into full-time roles.
Cath Siddle, director of nursing, patient safety and quality for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Many years ago we welcomed a group of Filipino nurses into our trust and four years ago welcomed a group of 34 nurses who, together with local staff, provide an excellent service for our patients.
“Because our natural turnover of staff runs at around 10 per cent, we have a continuing programme of nurse recruitment.
“Universities cannot always provide the numbers of nurses we are looking for, so we complement local recruitment when necessary. This year we have recruited another 34 Filipino nurses to join us.
“Currently these nurses are undergoing a period of training at Hartlepool so they can become familiar with our ward layout.
“Though their command of the English language is good, the Nursing and Midwifery Council requires all overseas nurses to undergo English language training before they take their nursing adaptation course and this is the process we are going through at the moment.
“Our new nurses will join the wards at the beginning of July and we would hope that, like our other Filipino nurses, they are given a warm welcome.
“We are delighted to have them because they have a reputation for being both compassionate and well educated as well as great team members for our local staff.”