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OUH welcomes Kenyan recruits

Thirteen Kenyan nurses have joined OUH

Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) has become the first NHS Trust to welcome Kenyan nurses as part of a bilateral agreement between the UK and Kenya governments.

Thirteen nurses joined OUH in June 2022, with 12 working at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and one starting at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury.

They were officially welcomed by some of their new senior colleagues at OUH, as well as representatives from NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Kenyan High Commission at a meet-and-greet event on Thursday 28 July.

The agreement, signed a year ago (29 July 2021), aims to boost the nursing workforce and address the pressures the NHS faces through providing employment opportunities for qualified unemployed Kenyan healthcare workers.

Julia Mbuthia, one of the new nurses, arrived in Oxford from Murang'a, a town around 50 miles from Nairobi, Kenya's capital city.

She said: "My colleagues and I were warmly received by the OUH team and the community of Kenyans in Oxford. Both the team at OUH and fellow Kenyans have helped us settle in and feel at home.

"While in Kenya, I learnt about the difficulties some countries have in recruiting – and I hoped to be part of the solution.

"When the opportunity to join OUH presented itself, I was excited. I took it on because it was a chance for me to be part of one of the leading trusts in the UK. It was also an opportunity for me to learn how healthcare is managed in advanced systems.

"I am grateful to be among the first chosen to serve through the bilateral agreement and change the course of healthcare for generations to come."

Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer at OUH, said: "It was a real privilege to welcome each and every one of the 13 nurses who have joined us as part of this exciting new programme between the UK and Kenya.

"We are grateful to Julia and the new nurses for joining us, and we are very lucky to have them. Together, they will enhance diversity, introduce new ideas, and boost our nursing workforce.

"We have so much to learn from each other and they will help us deliver compassionate excellence to our patients. I was delighted to welcome them as the newest members of our 'OneTeamOneOUH'."

OUH has welcomed around 1,000 international nurses, recruited from locations including India, the Caribbean, and the United States, since the end of 2017. New cohorts are greeted monthly.

The NHS has always benefited from overseas recruitment and from nurses joining from other countries to live and work in England.

Recruitment from outside of the UK continues to feature as an important part of the workforce supply strategy of NHS organisations, in line with the NHS People Plan.

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in 2019, set out the ambitions for the NHS, identifying ethical international recruitment as a workforce priority.

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said: "I warmly welcome the new nurses who have joined our NHS workforce as part of this partnership with Kenya. The scheme will make the most of UK and Kenyan health expertise and benefit both countries through the exchange of knowledge and training.

"We continue to grow the NHS workforce – with over 4,300 more doctors, and 10,200 more nurses compared to last year, and we are on track to deliver 50,000 more nurses by 2024.

"We have also commissioned NHS England to develop a long term workforce plan to recruit and support NHS staff while they deliver high quality, safe care to patients and help to bust the COVID-19 backlogs."

Duncan Burton, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: "Almost from the moment the NHS was set up, internationally educated nurses have been a fundamental part of the NHS family, and I was delighted to welcome our new recruits, from Kenya, and the wealth of nursing experience they bring, to the team at Oxford and the NHS."