Kettering General Hospital wins award for the way it supports its international nurses

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Nurses describe how help made them feel better when they landed in a new country

Kettering General Hospital has won a quality award for the way it supports its international nurses and helps them to develop rewarding careers in the NHS.

It has received the NHS Pastoral Care Quality Award for International Nurses and Midwives recognising its commitment to providing exceptional support for staff moving to work in the UK from overseas.

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Since 2019 KGH has had a formal pastoral care programme in place which has supported more than 350 international nurses in settling into jobs at the hospital.

International nurses and members of the practice development team with the quality awardInternational nurses and members of the practice development team with the quality award
International nurses and members of the practice development team with the quality award

It is run by the hospital’s Lead Nurse for Practice Development Hayley Burns with the support of the practice development and human resources teams.

She said: “We are delighted to have achieved the NHS Pastoral Care Quality Award which involved us demonstrating how we have comprehensive support in place for our international nurses.

“At KGH we have a team of five practice development nurses who work alongside our wards and departments to support our new arrivals in a huge number of different ways.

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“This can be advice with getting accommodation, paying bills, finding schools, helping them with job applications alongside all of the duties and expectations of what it means to be a nurse working in the NHS.

“In addition we show our dedication and commitment to our overseas staff by developing a community of support for them.

“This can involve putting them in contact with previous overseas nurses already working here, helping them to link into local community groups, and to just providing a friendly and supportive listening ear to colleagues who may be thousands of miles from home and their normal network of family and friends.”

What the nurses and midwives think

Alicia Antoine is now a staff nurse on HC Pretty Ward and was grateful for the support she received through the pastoral care programme.

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She joined KGH as an international nurse from Grenada in the Caribbean where she had already worked for nine years in medicine and surgery. She said: "When you arrive there is a nice letter of welcome and you get free hospital accommodation and groceries along with support and information.

“That includes everything from where to find the local shops, where to get your uniform, how to find private accommodation, and where to get the essentials from - everything from pots and pans to bed linen.

“I think the support is fantastic. When I arrived I was stressed, it was the furthest I had ever been from home, and it just all helps you to settle down. The practice nurses are really cheerful and bubbly and you feel happy.” Alicia is now settled in Kettering with her husband Koster and son Kyle, seven.

Peggy Ebiarede now works in A&E after working for 16 years as a nurse in Nigeria. She said: “When you arrive there is a well-structured plan to set you up with everything you need. I arrived in the midst of the Covid pandemic and there was a 10-day quarantine. But I had free accommodation and food for the first two months while I settled in.

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“Joining A&E was like joining a family and I was supported step-by-step to find my feet and get established.” Peggy now lives in Kettering with her daughters Neema, 13, and Karen, 11.

Antony Omondi Onyango joined KGH from Kenya and after working for five years there as a general nurse in theatres.

He said: “For me the training I received was really important. It helped me to understand exactly what to expect with working for the NHS. I was working towards my registration exam to enable me to work in the UK and I was shown exactly what I needed to do.”

Antony works in the surgical day case unit and he has now been joined by his wife Catherine, and sons, Miles, 13, and Roosephal, three, and the family rent a house in Kettering.

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The NHS Pastoral Care Quality Award is part of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s International Recruitment Programme. Initially launched in March 2022, the award scheme helps to standardise the quality and delivery of pastoral care for internationally educated nurses and midwives across England.

The hospital met all the best practice standards for pastoral care and offered a range of pastoral care services to support them as they settle into their new roles and adapt to life in a new country.

Kettering General Hospital’s Chief Nurse, Jayne Skippen, said: "We are delighted to have been recognised for our commitment to providing exceptional pastoral care to our international nursing staff.

“I want to thank all of our teams for the way they do this and for ensuring we have excellent processes in place to deliver this important support and encouragement for our fantastic overseas staff.”

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Writing to the Trust Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May, and her Deputy, Duncan Burton, said: “We are delighted to congratulate you and your team on achieving the NHS Pastoral Care Quality Award. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to providing best practice pastoral support to internationally educated nurses and midwives.

“This award recognises the incredible work being carried out in your Trust to ensure these colleagues receive enhanced and tailored pastoral care as they start their NHS journey and onwards in their career.”

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