More than 100 nurses and midwives will fly tens of thousands of miles across the world from Australia to fill vacancies in north-east hospitals.
Their recruitment follows a pioneering initiative where NHS Grampian bosses jetted Down Under to try to solve their decade-long recruitment crisis.
Back in 2017, the Press and Journal revealed the board was taking the unprecedented step in an effort to attract expats interested in returning to the UK.
While over there, however, they discovered there was also a surplus of homegrown nurses who were keen to make the trip to Scotland to ensure their skills did not go to waste.
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And, following a second trip in November, the board has now confirmed 105 nurses – 92 new graduates and 13 established healthcare professionals – have accepted jobs in the north-east.
Caroline Hiscox, director of nursing with the board, said: “This is the first time a health board in this country has tried to address the overall nursing shortage by targeting newly qualified Australian nurses in this way.
“There was a risk attached – as with all innovations – but the benefits for both organisations have been fantastic.
“It has been a lot of work for the team involved but the results are now beginning to speak for themselves.
“To have more than 100 qualified nurses lined up already is fantastic news – both for us as an organisation but, most importantly, for our patients.”
The board has partnered with the Western Australia Department of Health in an effort to ensure nurses can continue to develop while being unable to find a job.
This year alone, 1,100 of the 1,600 newly qualified nurses were unable to find a job after graduating.
Since November, senior staff have been carrying out interviews with potential candidates via video calls twice a day, beginning early in the morning because of the time difference.
Everyone who has been recruited has at least 1,000 hours of practice and three years of nursing training under their belts in a health system that is very similar to the NHS.
However, Mrs Hiscox has also said it could be some time before patients feel the benefit of the recruitment.
She said: “We already have the first of Australian nurses settled in and working here and we hope that we can welcome a new cohort next month but it will take some time for people to clear the immigration and professional standards process.
“Moving to the other side of the world is also not an easy step to take, so the team are also working closely with all of the individual applicants to try and make that as smooth as possible.”
Earlier this year the Nursing and Midwifery Council agreed to relax its overseas registration process.
The interim change is part of a wider review into registration for medics trained outside of the EEA.
After being lobbied by the NHS, nurses and midwives do not need a year of experience on top of their university qualifications to be eligible to sit the NMC exams
Anyone who secures a visa will be asked to work for a minimum of two years and will be provided with support to help sit the exams, which consist of a theory and practical element.
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