Enhancing international recruitment and retention

This webinar focused on the journey employers have undergone to improve international recruitment and retention.
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General information

22 March 2023 10:00 - 11:00 GMT
Open to all


  • Neil Fisher External link icon
    Senior Workforce Manager Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System
  • Stefano Pochetti External link icon
    International Recruitment Lead NHS England - South East

International health and care workers play a very important role in the delivery of health and care services in the UK.

NHS Employers’ dedicated international workforce supply team developed this webinar as opportunity to highlight some positive examples of work that is currently underway in the international recruitment space.

The speakers at this webinar shared their experiences with international recruitment and what projects they have worked on to improve recruitment and retention with international recruitment.

We were joined by:

  • Neil Fisher & Paul Morris - Neil and Paul are currently working at Norfolk and Waveney ICB focusing on collaborative approaches to support international recruitment for a variety of different roles. Norfolk and Waveney ICB have set up an international recruitment hub online to help individuals with the process, including: Arriving in the UK, getting to know the local area, and settling into the role.
  • Stefano Pochetti - Stefano joined the NHS in 2008 as an internationally recruited nurse. He now works for the international recruitment team at NHS England South East (SE) Region - part of the nursing workforce team, in the nursing directorate. In 2021, the SE Region developed an 18-month fellowship programme for internationally-educated healthcare professionals (considered experts by experience in the field) to work with the regional team. The programme focused on the personal and professional development of the fellows, as well as hearing their voices to improve the experience of colleagues.


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  • How are you supporting international nurses in supporting them settle into the UK and what cultural support are you providing for them so they don’t lose that sense of community and belonging by being in a different country?

    The support starts before the nurses’ travel with a pre-arrival webinar to help the nurses plan their transition. The meet and greet process includes helping nurses settle into their accommodation and there is pastoral support helpline if they are struggling with anything. The welcome packs issued to the nurses upon arrival provide contacts for faith centres, community groups and international food stores and many of our education team are internationally educated nurses themselves, so are able to signpost to support directly. There's much more offered directly by the trusts directly once the nurses arrive at their employing organisation.

    Please can you share the costing model per nurse?

    Based on our model the anticipated cost per nurse for this year (2023/24) would be c.£2500.

    What is the educator to international nurse ration for OSCE training?

    We aim to have at least one educator to every seven nurses.

    How did you generate support at an executive level across organisations to achieve this? And how have you resourced it from a programme/project management perspective?

    Our strategic delivery group for international recruitment has a membership that includes the directors of nursing so we can link our activity directly to executive approval. There was a strong desire at this level to collaborate.

    Project management support came from the ICB and its forerunners, alongside the host employer, the James Paget University Hospital.

    What was the reason behind the memorandum of understanding?

    The purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding was to capture the principles of the collaboration and to act as a guide to the governance of the collaboration, creating a high-level framework for the expectations of each party.

    Do you monitor international recruits’ retention rates and if so, how has the hub model impacted on retention?

    We don’t currently, this is one of our next steps.

    I’m interested to know the hub structure/staffing and if this was collated from resource within your providers?

    We originally looked at a model of shared resourcing for education but with the geography of Norfolk and Waveney travel proved difficult, so we have invested into our education team accordingly. One of our key lessons from year one has been around the need to review and strengthen resources. The Hub has both a recruitment and education team and pastoral support is provided between both teams under the leadership of the Head of Education from the host employer. We have a lead nurse and 4 educators and a team of 4 recruitment staff under a manager to oversee recruitment.

    Are the fellowships unique to NHSE SE?

    This particular type of fellowship focused on international recruitment was designed in NHS England South East region. Since then, different organisations have asked to replicate this approach, and we have proudly shared all information available.

    I would like to know more about the mentor toolkit please?

    To find out more please email irfellowship@southeast@nhs.net 

    How can I get in touch with you?

    If you would like to email irfellowship@southeast@nhs.net

    Is the IR forum within the programme exclusive for the IENs or are other staffs attending as well?

    It is open to any internationally educated healthcare professional. We have nurses, midwives, and AHPs representatives, anyone is welcome to join.

    I would be interested in further details about research about career progression and buddy systems?

    Please email irfellowship.southeast@nhs.net

    Having to do the buddy role alongside day-to-day work means doing extra work that does not have allotted time, which can result in colleagues feeling under pressure to juggle these things and find themselves doing a lot of it in personal time. How do we minimise or avoid this?

    The buddy programme is a volunteer-based system. The IR buddies register their interest and also the level of commitment they are willing to offer. Sometimes it is catching up over a cup of tea, lunch break or checking up on colleagues via emails or text. It gives IENs the assurance that someone is present in their corner (with lived experience) ready to listen to them. We also signpost to existing resources available within the trust and the NHS England.

    Do you work with recruitment agencies to run campaigns in other countries? Are there any plans to recruit nurses from India? We are a UK agency with team based in India ready to run campaigns for NHS trusts. How can we be of help?

    NHS England provides leadership to organisations, who then undertake recruitment based on the workforce strategies agreed by the board. It is not within the scope of NHS England's IR team to work with agencies directly. However, I am sure organisations would be interested to hear about your offer, so you may wish to contact them directly via their website.