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Non-EU recruitment is just a sticking plaster – we need to ‘grow our own’ I read with interest the news item and editorial on non-European Union nurses (June 3). While appreciating that nurses from non-EU countries are currently bolstering the NHS and care homes, I have three concerns. First, we must ensure we are not exploiting and robbing these countries of their nursing resources. It would be far better if we could either set up exchange programmes or offer education and training support to the countries in question. Second, if we are bringing in nurses without English as a first language, we must ensure they have sufficient adaptation training in relation to language and local culture. I came to this country 50 years ago from Sri Lanka to train as a nurse. Although my command of English and local culture was learned from excellent schools run by Methodist British missionaries, we were given support to acclimatise to help us deliver care efficiently. The adaptation programmes offered currently via the NMC are woefully inadequate. Third, bringing foreign nurses here is a sticking-plaster approach. In the face of slow and poor recruitment we need to re-examine our skill mix in nursing teams, create more assistant practitioner posts and make better efforts to grow our own. Ami David, by email

IF WE’RE WORRIED ABOUT WASTE, LET’S LOOK AT WORKFORCE COSTS Lord Carter is right to focus on waste in his report on NHS productivity published last week. But 70% of the NHS budget is spent on workforce and that is where the greatest impact can be made.

Employers need to administer employment costs effectively. In the Merseyside area, the NHS employers formed a relationship with a payroll provider that resulted in alleged overpayments. We now have a large number of healthcare workers who are ‘overpaid’ and in the process of taking legal proceedings against their employers, who are trying to recoup the money. Occupational health and safety is another huge employment cost. We now have record levels of stress in the workplace, coupled with record absence through musculoskeletal injuries. It would not be uncommon for a trust to be carrying around £1 million of absence costs as a result of workplace injury, as well as the associated costs of overtime, agencies, litigation and management and insurance. Lord Carter’s report is welcome but it is only the start of a debate. Mike Travis, RCN Council member

LACK OF CARE FOR ITS STAFF HAS LED THE NHS TO DEPEND ON AGENCIES A cap on the amount of money trusts spend on agency fees is long overdue (news June 10). But if the government sees that as its ‘big idea’ then I fear for our NHS. The real problem is that trusts are struggling to fill vacancies and at the same time there has been an increase in the number of nursing posts needed to cope with pressures and the newly defined safe staffing levels. The NHS has a growing vacancy rate because of years of effective pay cuts (our salaries have been frozen for the fifth consecutive year), greater workload, higher expectations and more scrutiny. As a result, staff are leaving the NHS to work for agencies. Why wouldn’t you if you can do the same or less work for sometimes four times more than what regular staff earn?

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Non-EU recruitment is just a sticking plaster - we need to 'grow our own'.

I read with interest the news item and editorial on non-European Union nurses (June 3)...
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