Toolkit aims to help attract and retain international nurses in the UK

Press/Media: Research


A new toolkit that aims to attract nurses to the UK from overseas, as well as retain those already working in the NHS, has been drawn up after extensive research by the University of Huddersfield through its Health and Wellbeing Academy team led by Professor Joanne Garside

International Nurses: Transitional Toolkit was developed, following a commission from NHS England, by Dr Bibha SimkhadaPrecious Adade DuoduCharlene Pressley and Professor Garside. Dr Simkhada and Precious Duodu are the key authors and are nurses from Nepal and Ghana respectively. 

Earlier in 2023, Professor Garside was involved in a report published by the university that assessed how the experiences of overseas nurses in the UK might be improved, and subsequently the team has conducted a portfolio of research on the experiences of international nurses in the UK.

Conjecture over targets but more nurses still needed

With the Government having set a target of 50,000 more nurses needed in the NHS by 2024, the need to attract and retain nurses from outside the UK is even more pressing. While the government’s claim of hitting its extra nurses target in November 2023 was rejected by the Royal College of Nursing, the initial claim of being on track to deliver 50,000 more nurses by 2024 remains. In light of the Government’s plan to recruit international nurses at scale to fill nursing vacancies, there has been a 27% increase in Nursing and Midwifery Council registration, with an equal number of registrations of both international and locally trained nurses.

“There is now a lot of competition in nurse recruitment from countries like Australia, Canada, USA and the UAE – everyone is struggling right now,” Dr Simkhada declares.

“Nurses are looking at their options, and we have been told during our research that they are looking at what support mechanisms there are, and what the career opportunities are. Some international nurses are leaving the UK to go to Australia and USA because of salaries and the cost of living here, so we need to see how they can be supported and stay.

“If there was a support mechanism here in the UK which nurses were aware of, then that might help convince new nurses to come here.

Toolkit points to how nurses can develop in UK

The new toolkit was created following a comprehensive review of diverse resources including nursing curricula, standards, and codes of professional conducts from India, Kenya, South Africa and the Philippines. It includes their experiences taking into account the cultural contexts and nursing backgrounds of each country to help nurses to decide what they can do to improve their experiences or why the UK would be a good fit for them. The toolkit also incorporated some primary findings from the portfolio of research on international nurses by the team.

“The toolkit identifies gaps and looks at what model of nursing different nationalities were educated in, and then how they can bridge the gap to nursing in the UK,” adds Dr Simkhada.

“It will help them identify what their learning needs are. They can understand codes of conduct in the UK, what standards they need to work to, what professional bodies they may work with and what quality of care is required. Hopefully, it will make them think about where to get support from their employers if they need it.”

Precious Duodu adds that the team’s analysis found that, “Career development was the primary motivator for international nurses to work in the UK, followed closely by the quest for an improvement in their quality of life.”

The toolkit takes how nursing career progress differently across the countries under analysis, and makes practical suggestions for their learning needs for overseas nurses and their employers. It includes integrated resource links, case studies and examples of good practice across various Trusts in the UK.

It makes practical suggestions for challenges overseas nurses face including slang, dialects and care of the elderly and its guiding societal values in the UK. The toolkit also highlights how the skills and experience many nurses bring with them need to be recognised and supported more.

“We make recommendations for employers to encourage social and emotional networks and social introduction support systems,” Precious Adade Duodu adds.

Dr Simkhada adds that, “We plan to showcase the toolkit at nursing conferences in 2024, and to begin to publicise and share it via social media, as that can be such a useful tool for nurses and their employers who have great demands on their time.”

Period21 Dec 2023

Media coverage


Media coverage