Globrotting Wigan health bosses let the plane take the strain in overseas recruitment drive to plug staffing gaps

Wigan health chiefs went on a globetrotting recruitment spree to plug gaps in their staffing levels.
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Over the past three years, WWL NHS Trust staff visited India, Dubai (UAE), Egypt, and Thailand to recruit international nurses to come and work at Wigan Infirmary.

The figures were released in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by Wigan Today to the health trust.

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It followed an earlier FOI in which the Trust was asked how much had been spent on business class flights over the past few years.

Wigan Infirmary (file picture)Wigan Infirmary (file picture)
Wigan Infirmary (file picture)
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This revealed Wigan hospital chiefs spent nearly £162,000 on international flights last year in a bid to recruit overseas nurses and doctors after the Covid-19 pandemic led to a record number of staff vacancies.

A follow-up FOI request made by Wigan Today asked the trust which international locations had been visited to recruit staff.

This revealed two visits were made to India in 2019, and one to Egypt.

Rabina Tindale, chief nurse at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustRabina Tindale, chief nurse at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Rabina Tindale, chief nurse at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
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There were no visits in either 2020 or 2021 due to Covid, but last year (2022) there were four visits to India and one to Thailand.

So far this year there has been one visit to India.

When asked how many medical staff had actually been recruited to come and work in Wigan from each country, the Trust said it did not have this information.

It added: "During the pandemic we did all the interviews online and the countries the candidate were in were not recorded.

"When face to face interviews were done in India and Dubai, we had citizens of multiple countries visiting India for the interview. The Trust also did online interviews from India for doctors living in other countries."

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When asked whether the recruitment drive had successfully addressed the staff shortage issue, the Trust replied: "The requirements for international nurses for WWL have dropped significantly and is in single digits for this financial year."

Following the release of the information contained in the FOI, the NHS trust’s chief nurse Rabina Tindale said: “Following a successful nurse recruitment campaign, which included international recruitment, we have achieved the permanent staffing levels we needed to ensure we continue to provide safe high quality care to our patients.”