international recruitment

Published: 04/07/2002, Volume II2, No. 5812 Page 25

A central clearing house for applications from overseas nurses saves trusts time and matches details to vacancies.

Fiona Johnson and Sue Smithson explain

As international recruitment becomes an increasingly important feature of workforce planning, hospitals and other health organisations are receiving unsolicited applications from nurses overseas.

In November 2001, the Greater Manchester Workforce Development Confederation set up a clearing house system to process these and support the recruitment, integration and induction of overseas staff into 12 acute hospitals in Manchester.

The system was established in conjunction with the international recruitment division of the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service trust (WYMAS).

In February 2001, when work on the project started, both the ambulance service and the hospitals were receiving applications from nurses overseas and asylum seekers.Most applicants were looking for a position which included a supervised practice programme.

It became clear that these applications were often placed in a bottom drawer and were becoming a growing burden on overstretched resources.

Also, a potentially valuable resource of staff was not being considered for recruitment.

The project aimed to identify the total number of applicants, establish a single point of contact, manage the applications in an accurate and timely way, ensure robust recruitment processes, and manage applicants'expectations realistically.

It also set out to advise trusts and applicants on work permits and immigration status.With few exceptions, the trusts did not have the resources, knowledge or experience to investigate individual applications and ensure appropriate recruitment.

All speculative applications from overseas candidates, and overseas applicants already in the UK, are now acknowledged and forwarded to WYMAS, which screens them and carries out initial interviews.Suitable candidates are then placed on a database.Trusts in Manchester contact WYMAS with positions they are having difficulty filling.

Trusts interview UK-based selected candidates, supported by WYMAS International.Support is provided with work permits if the nurse is offered a position.Staff at WYMAS International help trusts with induction problems.

A face-to-face interview is required with applicants living outside the UK. If they can visit the UK, an interview is arranged at their convenience. If they cannot come to the UK, the clearing house keeps their application on file until there are enough applications from that particular country to arrange a recruitment visit there.

At the moment the clearing house is receiving about 48 applications a month, with the Philippines and India the main source of candidates.A total of 300 applications have been received and 100 nurses placed in jobs.

The system offers trusts a managed system for speculative applications and a standardised recruitment system in which skills are matched to vacancies.Nurse applicants seem pleased to have a single point of contact for information.

The scheme is still being piloted and at present there is no charge to the trusts in Manchester.But it is anticipated that charges may be introduced in future.

Fiona Johnson is service manager, critical care, Tameside and Glossop Acute Services trust.

Sue Smithson is international recruitment manager at West Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service trust.