Foreign nurses recruited to work in East Lancashire are quitting the NHS because the north is nothing like London. A quarter of the first wave of recruits have left, in part as they are unable to understand the regional accent.
Christine Pearson, the chief nurse for the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, told a recent board meeting that the new recruits were under the misapprehension that they would be moving to London, the Telegraph has reported.
“When they came to England they felt they were coming to maybe London, so that was one of the issues we had to work on,” she told colleagues, adding “I had a patient say to me ‘you’re not from round here’, so even if you live 25 miles down the road in Manchester such as me, you’ll always have language barriers,
The trust has been forced to give language and pronunciation lessons to the new recruits to help them better understand the local dialect. Words like “blood” and “bath” were causing problems for foreign nurses more used to hearing southern British accents.
The course, introduced last June, also familiarised the recruits with local phrases such as “I’m starved”, which means “I’m cold” in Lancashire, and “am a get”, as well as more common colloquialisms such as “make us a brew”.
But 23 year old Italian nurse Greta Veneruz, who had moved to Blackburn, said: “We learnt English like how people speak in London and when we came here it didn’t sound the same.”
The Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals, both of which are run by the East Lancashire Trust, have between them recruited more than 40 nurses from mainland Europe in the last year. Most are from Italy, but a number have also arrived from Romania and Portugal.
However, a quarter of the first 26 to arrive have already left the trust. Miss Pearson assured the board that the recruits had adequate language skills, and were given enough time to acclimatise before starting work on the wards.
The East Lancashire Trust has had a difficult time recruiting staff to work in its hospitals. Recently it has begun forging links with the University of Central Lancashire in a bid to attract recent graduates.
In the year to last September, 5,778 nurses were recruited from abroad, according to figures collected from 103 English hospital trusts. The majority came from Spain, Portugal, the Philippines and Italy. The figures represented a 50 percent increase in foreign recruitment on the year before, prompting the Royal College of Nursing to exclaim that this was “no way to run a health service”.