MIDWIVES from Zimbabwe are being recruited to help tackle shortages on maternity wards at Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals.
Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), gave the update at a meeting of the board of directors on Wednesday.
He told the meeting: “I am very proud that we are going out to Zimbabwe and we are going to be one of the first trusts in the country to be working with Zimbabwe to bring midwives across.
“As our midwives come across, they will have pastoral care.”
Figures to the board showed there had been a fall in the number of overall vacancies at the trust during September, falling from 5.7% to 5.3%.
Inga Lockington, Suffolk County and Ipswich borough councillor, asked for more information about the recruitment.
She said: “I always think countries like Zimbabwe probably need all their midwives, but, if they come to the UK, can they bring their families?”
Mr Thorpe said he could give an assurance that all the trust’s recruitment activities were ethical.
“There have always been questions around the ethics of recruiting from foreign countries, but these are individuals who have their own reasons for wanting to come to the UK.”
He said he couldn’t comment on Home Office rules, however, the trust would always support nurses whose families wanted to come to the UK together, and also supported those who decided that their families should remain in their home country.
Also, often couples both worked in healthcare and so were able to come to the UK together.
He said it had been difficult for many nurses during Covid travel restrictions and the trust was helping them now that it was easier to travel.
“With many international nurses, we have supported them having blocks of time to go home and visit their families,” he added.
The meeting also heard of other initiatives to recruit more nurses and midwives.
Kate Read, director of people and organisational development, said: “We are working very hard to reduce the number of vacancies.”
She said the trust had also been working closely with Health Education England on increasing the number of trainees.
A Performance Report presented at the meeting said the arrival date of international midwives had been delayed until January 2022 as a result of Nursing and Midwifery Council requirements.
However, 224 international registered nurses had arrived and were in post, with 73 more due to come in March 2022.