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Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
NHS drafts in Chinese nurses
The NHS is suffering a serious nursing shortage
The NHS is to draft in nurses from China as it struggles to cope with a serious shortage of staff.

Around 50 nurses will come into Britain next year, according to the Department of Health.

They will work at hospitals in London, Birmingham and Coventry.

Until there are enough nurses in the NHS, we support a policy of responsible recruitment from abroad

Department of Health spokesman

The nurses were recruited during a visit by UK health managers to China in May.

The managers had been invited out by the Chinese Government, which is keen that its nurses should gain experience of working in the NHS.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "These 50 qualified nurses will be joining the NHS on a pilot secondment lasting up to two years.

Fluent in English

"They are well experienced and fluent in English and the skills and experience they gain here they will take back with them to China after their two years.

this can only ever be a sort term solution

Royal College of Nursing spokesperson

"The Government is committed to increasing the number of nurses. The main route for that is more training places and attracting nurses back into the profession.

"Until there are enough nurses in the NHS, we support a policy of responsible recruitment from abroad.

The official emphasised that there was strict guidance on how this is achieved.

"There has to be support from the host government and the nursing surplus in the country concerned."

A Royal College of Nursing spokesperson said: "The NHS has always recruited nurses from overseas, just as nurses from the UK have travelled abroad to gain different experiences.

"The current severity of nurse shortages means that we are relying more and more on nurses from overseas to hold the NHS together, but this can only ever be a sort term solution.

"The real challenge is to make nursing an attractive career choice."

The nurses will be placed in the London hospitals Bart's, Royal London and Hammersmith and the University Hospital, Birmingham and Walsgrave hospitals.

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