Dozens of Romanian and Filipino nurses drafted in to cope with staff shortages at Hartlepool hospital trust

The University Hospital of North Tees
The University Hospital of North Tees

More than 50 overseas nurses are due to start work on wards within weeks to help tackle staff shortages within a hospital trust.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is bringing in 39 nurses after a recruitment drive in the Philippines last summer and are due to start next week.

Paul Garvin Chairman of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust. Picture by FRANK REID

Paul Garvin Chairman of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust. Picture by FRANK REID

And a further 14 from Romania are due to begin work in March.

Staff shortages on some wards were among areas of improvement identified by the Care Quality Commission in its inspection report on the trust which was published earlier this week.

The trust hopes it will also reduce pressure on its wage bill.

So far this year, it has had to spend £1.2 million in premium rates to locum doctors and agency staff to cover for vacancies and maternity cover.

Ann Burrell, the trust’s director of human resources, said: “That will further support our reduction in agency usage.”

The trust held a recruitment campaign in the Philippines last July resulting in 39 nurses being offered jobs.

And it appointed another 14 after a recruitment drive in Romania in November.

Trust chairman Paul Garvin welcomed the recruitment saying: “It is really good news we have got our overseas nurses coming to us over the next couple of months.”

A report on staffing levels presented to the latest board meeting of the trust said it prides itself on ensuring safe staffing levels are maintained at all times.

The report stated: “Duty rotas are planned in advance and staffing needs are reassessed on a daily basis by the senior nursing teams for each area to ensure that changing needs are met.”

The number of people working for the trust increased by 48 from 5,393 at the end of 2014-15 to 5,441 at the end of the third quarter of this year.

The staff turnover rate decreased in the third quarter to 12.9% in December.

There were fewer new starters to the trust between October and December, down 70 to a total of 172.

A total of 130 staff left the trust in the same period but that is 10 fewer from the previous year.

Flexible retirement was said to be the top reason for staff exits.

Today, trust leaders are due to attend a special meeting at Harlepool Borough Council to outline the reasons behind the closure of Hartlepool hospital’s Assisted Reproduction Unit from the end of March.

The meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee starts at 2.30pm and is expected to be well attended.

Doors open at 2pm and admission to the council chamber to the public is on a first come, first served basis.