Welcoming and supporting overseas NHS workers in Torbay and South Devon

Mary Chikodili Okolie
(Last Updated On: March 4, 2022)

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (TSDFT) is celebrating the contribution made by its international workers as part of Overseas NHS Workers Day on Friday 04 March 2022.

Mary Chikodili Okolie joined Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, as a staff nurse in 2021 and works at Newton Abbot Community Hospital: “I chose to come to Devon to work mainly because of the beautiful weather and coastlines. Coming from Africa, I felt Devon would be good as it has milder weather. Although I do miss my family, I have wonderful neighbours who helped me move into my new home.

Mary Chikodili Okolie

“It has been great working at Newton Abbot Community Hospital and although it can get busy the staff know I am learning which makes a real difference. They are willing to give a helping hand while I am adjusting to my new role.”

Deborah Kelly, Chief Nurse, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are hugely proud to be to be able to welcome staff from overseas and it is great to see the work they do to support people in Torbay and South Devon to live well and to care for them when they are ill or in need.

“Moving home and starting a new job is a big step for most people, but when that also involves moving to a new country with a different language and culture, it can be even more difficult. So, it is crucial that we support our overseas colleagues to feel prepared and valued in their new role. For example, as part our recruitment process for international nurses, we ensure there is early and ongoing pastoral care and training to help them adapt to their new surroundings.”

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust is part of the Devon Alliance for International Recruitment which comprises six NHS trusts across the county who share resources and have a single approach to recruitment. The alliance, supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement, has recruited 242 overseas nurses from the Philippines, India, United Arab Emirates, Jamaica, and Zimbabwe since August last year.

Before the nurses arrive in the UK, they are already qualified to a high standard, but are required to sit a practical assessment (OSCE exam) to achieve registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and work on wards as registered nurses.

Judy Falcao, Chief People Officer, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Overseas NHS Workers Day presents an opportunity to celebrate the marvellous contributions of international staff working in healthcare. Our overseas staff are an integral part of our organisation and bring skill, diversity, companionship and strength to their roles. Being part of the Devon Alliance for International Recruitment has helped us recruit internationally in a more coordinated way and brings many benefits including pooling resources and maximising recruitment expertise.

“Through the Devon Alliance we are looking to expand our international recruitment into other professions both within healthcare roles, such as allied health professionals and doctors, and also social care as part of our integrated health and care system for Devon. We are gathering feedback from our international nurses’ experiences to help us make improvements in both our recruitment and the pastoral care and support we provide. We are also working with our overseas colleagues to support them in their new community as well as better support their professional development.”

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