Foreign staff to ease shortage of nurses

The National Health Service has announced two recruitment drives that will increase the number of foreign staff working in the United Kingdom.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn signed an agreement to employ 5,000 Spanish nurses with 75 due to start two-year contracts early next year in hospitals in the north west.

The 75 will take part in a pilot project, which if successful,

will see the remainder also employed.

The initiative is aimed at easing the shortage of UK nurses.

The nurses will take a three-month crash course introducing them to Britain and the NHS.

The NHS is also looking to employ doctors and dentists who are living in the UK with refugee status.

Health minister John Denham said, "During the six years it takes to train a doctor, there may be as many as 2,000 refugees in this country who have already qualified as doctors abroad.

"It makes both moral and economic sense to use their skills to the to the fullest possible extent."

He added that the refugee doctors and dentists would receive extra training if necessary to enable them to work within the NHS.

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