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Travel restrictions stopping overseas nurses working at Shropshire hospitals

Nurses may be unable to start work at Shropshire’s two main hospitals due to anti-coronavirus travel restrictions, a trust report says.

Workforce Committee chairman Teresa Boughey writes that “there is a risk that our overseas nurses may now not arrive due to travel restrictions”, but the possibility of a “fast-track” is being explored.

In a report for the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust board, she adds that “accommodation remains a challenge”, and the HR team are exploring student halls and hotels as possible housing.

Ms Boughey’s report will be discussed by the SaTH board when it meets on Thursday, March 26.

She says: “COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge for the organisation in terms of workforce.”

Summarising the last committee meeting, Ms Boughey writes: “There is a risk that our overseas nurses may now not arrive due to travel restrictions. It is being explored if their arrival can be fast-tracked.

“Accommodation remains a challenge, and the HR team is exploring various options including students accommodation and possibly using local hotels.”

She adds that some nurses may be unable to travel to a testing centre in Ireland to sit their OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) test, which is part of the registration process for nurses and midwives trained outside Europe.

“Any of the overseas nurses here, and, hopefully, coming, who have not yet sat the exam will have to wear green armbands enabling us to use them in other roles,” she adds.

Ms Boughey adds that students nurses and recently retired staff could be drafted in, and “all staff, including non-clinical, are being asked to consider being deployed into other roles where appropriate, and the training team are looking into what training they need to be up-skilled”.

She adds that “all actions are being taken to ensure appropriate staffing levels in all areas, notwithstanding that the situation is unprecedented”.

A separate report, prepared for the same meeting by Quality and Safety Committee chairman David Lee, says routine elective surgery at the Princess Royal Hospital and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital has been cancelled and visiting times have been restricted to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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