WORKFORCE: Weston Area Health Trust has hired six nurses from Spain following an overseas recruitment campaign this month, bringing the numbers of overseas nurses working at the acute provider to 28 this year.

The trust, the smallest district general hospital in the country, has hired nurses from Spain and Italy over the past year.

A struggle to attract nursing staff, who prefer to go to trusts able to offer more competitive career paths was behind the move, the trust said.

A trust spokeswoman added that the provider has had difficulty sourcing the volume or calibre of UK candidates to meet its requirements.

Weston Area Health held a recruitment event in Madrid earlier this month, with a view to hiring 35 extra nurses.

While only six have had contracts signed as part of the latest campaign, HSJ understands more are expected to be recruited before the end of the financial year.

In January, the trust hired eight Italian nurses as part of its overseas recruitment.

The 28 nurses recruited so far this year compares with 39 overseas nurses taken on in 2013-14.

A paper presented to the trust’s governing body earlier this month states: “Nurse recruitment is an ongoing challenge to ensure that the trust sustains a stable and effective workforce by maintaining a low number of vacancies, therefore reducing the requirement for temporary workers.

It adds: “The trust has made arrangements to hold a recruitment event in Spain, with the aim of recruiting up to 35 nurses. Whilst this is the intention, the European recruitment market is very competitive with many trusts competing in the same area.”

A trust spokeswoman said:  “We are the smallest acute trust in England and as a district general hospital do not provide some of the specialist services that a larger acute trust would provide.

“This means other trusts are able to offer a more competitive career path in some areas than we can. However, other than that, there is nothing specific. We find that there is not the volume of calibre of candidates to meet our nursing requirements.

“The decision to hire from Spain is based on previous experience where we have recruited nurses who have proven to be of high quality [and] have integrated well into the trust.

“They have become an essential part of our nursing workforce and welcomed very positively by staff and patients.”