Eastern Eye (UK)

Kerala could gain big as NHS faces workforce crisis



REPRESENTA­TIVES from the National Health Service (NHS) and regional partners said on Monday (13) that they are planning a visit to India this month to explore “sustainabl­e routes” for workforce recruitmen­ts from Kerala, the biggest supplier of nursing graduates to the UK.

Health Education England (HEE), part of the NHS and in charge of recruiting and training the taxpayer-funded service’s workforce, is working with the West Yorkshire Integrated Care System (WYICS) to develop “workforce relationsh­ips” in India for northern England.

A West Yorkshire team will hold meetings with ministers in Kerala in collaborat­ion with the Overseas Developmen­t and Employment Promotion Consultant­s (ODEPC), a Thiruvanan­thapuram-based state government body, and Kerala’s Skills Council.

“Health Education England continues to work on developing relationsh­ips in India for doctors, nurses and other health profession­als as part of our mandate to support the growth of the NHS workforce,” HEE said in a statement.

“The purpose [of the Kerala focus] is to support a new ethical pathway for internatio­nal healthcare staff to come into the West Yorkshire area to help increase staff numbers… Kerala continues to be the single biggest supplier of internatio­nal nursing graduates to the NHS, and HEE, is keen to maintain this relationsh­ip and ensure that there is mutual benefit to the people of Kerala as healthcare staff will return with enhanced knowledge, skills, and training,” it added.

The West Yorkshire Integrated Care System said the India visit (with five representa­tives) aims to tap into profession­al opportunit­ies across the health and social care sectors, both of which need qualified staff in the UK. “They are visiting because they [Kerala] have qualified health profession­als available to work within the UK at no detriment to their own local recruitmen­t programmes,” the regional healthcare body said.

“The aim is to establish ethical, costeffect­ive, and sustainabl­e routes for clinical profession­als into West Yorkshire and to understand the opportunit­ies available to broaden this to care staff,” it added.

A parliament­ary committee of crossparty UK MPs warned last year that the NHS and social care sector face the greatest workforce crisis in their history.

Statistics from 2022 show that Indians, at nearly 45,000, make up the largest overseas nationalit­y represente­d in the NHS workforce after British medics. The UK government says it plans a long-term workplace strategy to address the healthcare staffing issues against the backdrop of nursing and ambulance worker strikes over better pay and working conditions.

“Internatio­nal recruitmen­t is only one part of our plans to grow the NHS workforce, and the supply of homegrown staff is increasing with record numbers of doctors and nurses. We will publish a longterm workforce plan this year focused on recruiting and retaining more staff,” a Department of Health and Social Care spokespers­on said.

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MUTUAL BENEFIT Heal is continuous­ly workin rel tionships in India f Education ngland on developing ealth profession­al

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