The Hon. T.P. Ramakrishnan, Minister for Labour and Excise in Government of Kerala, India, made a visit to the north west of England this week to meet with nurses from Kerala State working and training in England as part of Health Education England’s (HEE) global learners scheme that offers overseas nurses a safe, ethical and supported route into training and practice within the NHS.
The Minister visited Royal Preston Hospital and Royal Blackburn Hospital, where he was welcomed by senior management and Professor Ged Byrne, HEE’s Director of Global Engagement. At both hospitals he met with nurses from the Kerala State currently providing healthcare services for patients while enhancing their skills through training at the trust.
The Minister spoke to the nurses about their experiences of coming to work and train in England and discussed the programme with management teams at HEE and the hospitals.
Sarah Cullen, Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals Director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister to Royal Preston Hospital to meet some of our international nurses and find out more about the opportunities that we are able to provide for them. The Minister was able to take a tour of our ward areas and education facilities and see first-hand the contribution that these nurses make to our organisation.”
Following his visit, Mr Ramakrishnan said: “It has been a very useful visit. I am very impressed with the nurses I met. They are clearly benefiting from their time in England and improving their skills every day with a world-class health care provider.”
“The nurses have been extremely well looked after by the trusts and the global engagement team at Health Education England. This is a scheme we would wish to see expand and something we would like more nursing staff in Kerala to experience.”
Professor Ged Byrne, Director of Global Engagement at HEE, added: “It was great to be able to welcome the Minister on his fact-finding visit to England to see first-hand how the global learners programme is working to benefit patients in England in time back in Kerala when the nurses return to their home country better equipped with skills and experience learnt in the NHS.”
HEE is working with State Governments in India to deliver the global learners’ programme to ensure it is run ethically and with appropriate government oversight and support both in India and the UK.
A key part of the global learners’ programme is ensuring that nurses can return to India with enhanced skills. The Kerala Ministry of Health is therefore holding the jobs of government nurses who migrate under the GLP open, so if they wish to come back to India after developing skills, they have a guaranteed role to return to.
Kerala produces thousands of nurses every year. It has a minimal vacancy rate in the nursing sector with no risk to the workforce capacity in the region during the three years when nurses work and train in the UK.
While in the UK the Minister signed an executive agreement that further cemented the relationship between Kerala State and the NHS in England.
More information about the Global Learners Programme is available from [email protected]