Funding worth £28m is being made available in England to quickly “accelerate” the recruitment of nurses from overseas, following a period of inactivity due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Half of the money is dedicated to supporting the arrival to the country of nurses who have already been appointed from abroad.
The other half is to fund a “significant expansion” of future overseas nurse recruitment for the remainder of 2020-21.
The plans were outlined in a letter seen by Nursing Times from chief nursing officer for England, Ruth May, to regional directors of nursing across the country.
The outbreak of Covid-19 had led to the majority of international nurse recruitment activity being paused.
In the letter, Ms May said these “markets” were now beginning to reopen, with some nurses having travelled from abroad to the UK to join the NHS in recent weeks.
There is, therefore, a real opportunity to accelerate the recruitment and arrival of international nurses,” she said.
There are currently more than 6,500 international nurses recruited waiting to come to England.
Ms May said a £14m financial package was being made available to help get these nurses into the NHS.
Examples given for what the money could be spent on included flights, quarantine periods, accommodation and training to prepare nurses to join the Nursing and Midwifery Council register.
A further £14m is being offered to help trusts recruit additional international nurses in 2020-21.
Trusts are being encouraged to take a collaborative approach by partnering up with neighbour organisations and working “at scale to recruit, induct and provide pastoral support”.
The money is also intended to help trusts “develop a new pipeline of overseas nurses and diversify the intake of nurses from a range of countries”.
The NHS People Plan has underlined our ongoing commitment to international nurse recruitment,” said Ms May in the letter.
“I, therefore, ask that you, directors of nursing, review and ramp up your international recruitment plans and activity in the next few weeks and also ensure you have an effective plan to get those overseas nurses that you have already appointed to the UK in the coming weeks and months.”
In addition, as part of the wider international recruitment programme, Ms May said a new English language “offer” would be put in place this year to help overseas nurses working in healthcare support worker (HSCW) roles in the UK achieve NMC nurse registration.
While Ms May flagged the need to follow ethical recruitment practices, concerns have still be raised about the implications of raiding other countries for nurses at the time of a global pandemic.