Civil servants are in a ‘hurry’ to hire overseas care staff before winter.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay has ordered civil servants to significantly increase overseas recruitment of NHS and social care staff before the winter.

The health secretary has suggested more hiring for British jobs could take place in the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka, countries which, Mr Barclay said, produce more nurses than they need.

To get a visa, foreign staff must prove they can use English to a sufficient level. Mr Barclay also said the social care sector could benefit from hiring foreign workers who have nursing qualifications but not a high enough standard of English for front line NHS work.

“Real challenges are expected this winter”.

Referring to seasonal flu, the possibility of another Covid wave and rising energy bills this winter that could increase hospital admissions, he said: “We have very real challenges coming down the track in the autumn and winter, and as far as I’m concerned there needs to be a real sprint within Whitehall, and particularly in the Department of Health, to get ready for September.

“Part of my role is to prepare for reasonable worst case scenarios. The decisions need to happen now, not wait until the autumn.”

Mr Barclay has said he wants the recruitment drive to particularly focus on boosting the care sector and he has hired a taskforce to look at overseas recruitment for NHS and care staff.

There are currently 105,000 job vacancies in the care sector, according to government figures and a shortage of care staff is leading to delays in discharging patients from hospitals to free up beds.


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