‘Nurse hiring in UK stable despite budget cuts’


By Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
Filipino nurse recruitment in Britain should remain stable amid cuts on immigration and public spending in the UK, said the Philippine embassy in London.
Speaking from an event at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex, embassy officials welcomed newly recruited nurses and reassured other nurses from the Philippines that job opportunities in the UK should continue to become available.
“So far, the UK is not shutting its doors to foreign workers,” said Atty. Jainal Rasul, Labor Attache at the Philippine embassy in London, in an interview with The Filipino Channel.
He continued: “It has not declared any ban in the hiring of foreign workers, especially nurses. There will be reductions, of course, due to some changes, but in the long term, there will be more nurses coming in due to shortages of nurses right within the UK.”
He added that recent changes in British immigration policies should not alarm Filipino migrants who are already in the UK.
“As announced by the UK Border Agency, for those already in the UK - nurses, senior carers, and other professionals - they will not be affected by the proposed interim or permanent limit of the UK government,” he explained.
In 2011, the British government will implement changes over immigration and public spending, both of which could affect overseas recruitment in the UK, including nurses and other skilled workers from the Philippines.
Media reports suggest that an immigration cap will be implemented in the UK from April 2011, which means that only 21,700 skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area will be allowed entry into its borders, a cut of approximately 6,300 compared to 2009.
The government will also dramatically reduce its public spending budget, including a cut of £2.3 billion from the National Health Service, which funds most of the hospitals in the UK.
The cuts are fueled by financial problems caused by the recent global recession.
World-Class Nurses
Despite the cuts, the Philippine embassy is optimistic in the stability of nurse recruitment from the Philippines due to the quality of work delivered by Filipino nurses.
“The feedback has been very positive. We’ve heard officials of the UK government commending us on the hard work, dedication and competence of our Filipino nurses, and we’re very happy about those comments,” revealed Reynaldo Catapang, Charges d’Affaires at the Philippine embassy in London.
There are currently 50,000 Filipino nurses working in hospitals all over Britain, including 100 nurses at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH).
“We’ve successfully recruited a whole batch of Filipino nurses 10 years ago. A lot of those nurses are still with us, and enjoying their period with us,” said Gerald Coteman, Chairman of PAH.
He added: “They’ve learnt a great deal and they’re contributing significantly to services that we provide here. We’ve gone out a second time to recruit from that source, and we’re very pleased with the Filipino nurses that joined us 10 years ago that we felt we’d have more of the same. We really welcome these additional nurses, and hopefully they’ll be fitting in and enjoying their time with us.”
Terry Lopez-Bishop from Bataan is one of the success stories at PAH. Trained at Saint Louis University in Baguio City, she has consistently impressed her employers and colleagues since her recruitment in 2000. She has been promoted consistently and is now a ward manager at the hospital.
“At first, it was a shock, because it’s totally different from back home,” she revealed. “The important thing to remember is we have to learn from each other - what you can give and what you can learn from another culture - and put it all together to whatever will be helpful to the patients and the hospital as well.”
She added: “Filipino nurses are able to adapt well, I believe, with the culture in here, and integrate well into the hospital and how it works in meeting standards and the needs of the patients and of the country.”
Opportunities
Thousands of Filipino nurses continue to aspire to work in the UK and other Western countries for the life-changing opportunities it affords.
“I would like to adapt here, have career progression, and inspire others, especially my colleagues back in the Philippines,” explained Sheila Dalubar, one of the newly recruited nurses at PAH.
She continued: “I wanted to come in here and explore the job opportunities that the UK is offering, and to some day bring my family here as well to enjoy the life that I’m enjoying right now. It’s been good so far because most of the people in here are really supportive and approachable, especially in the ward that I’m working in.”
According to Lopez-Bishop, the key to success as a nurse is an “open mind” and a helpful attitude.
“My advice is just be open. Do not unlearn what you have learned before. Meet halfway, and see what you can contribute, what you could do to help, and learn more as well. Have an open mind, because nursing itself is dynamic, it evolves. You just have to accept that the changes will be for the better of delivering services to the patients,” she concludes.
Nursing continues to be a popular career choice for young Filipinos who wish to work overseas, and despite the recent changes in UK policies, nurse recruitment from the Philippines should remain stable in the foreseeable future.

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