International recruitment efforts and commitment to providing gold standard quality pastoral care at Oswestry’s specialist orthopaedic hospital has been recognised by a prestigious national award from NHS England.

Launched in March 2022, the NHS Pastoral Care Quality Award – which aims to standardise the quality and delivery of pastoral care internationally educated nurses and midwives across England – was presented to the team at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital.

In 2023, the Oswestry-based hospital welcomed 22 international nurses to its workforce, from countries including Kenya, India, Saudi Arabia, Jamaica and more.

Lillie Birch, Professional Development Nurse for International Recruitment, said: “We have benefitted hugely from the international nurses we have recruited in recent years. They bring a host of skills and knowledge to our services.

“However, we recognise the huge challenges they can face in moving to another, unfamiliar country. We have gone to great lengths to make their transition as smooth as possible, as well as providing ongoing support.”

In order to receive the award, a series of standards outlining best practice pastoral care must be met. These have been developed by NHS England alongside international recruitment leads and international nursing and midwifery associations.

Lillie added: “The award recognises the work we’ve done to support our international nurses.

“This support starts before they arrive in the country, with information sent to them two to three weeks pre-arrival and include an onboarding pack and social integration information. More information is shared with the recruits when they arrive at RJAH as well as a small grant to help with any immediate costs.

“I also support the international nurses long-term, until they feel settled in their new country and role – this is dependent on the individual but it’s usually around 12 months of formal support. After this time, I’m still there as a point of contact if it’s ever needed.”

Paul Kavanagh-Fields, Chief Nurse and Patient Safety Officer, said: “This is a fantastic achievement – thank you to everyone at RJAH who’s committed to supporting the wellbeing of our international recruits.

“We know that enhanced pastoral support has a positive impact on both recruitment and retention, and also supports staff wellbeing, and I’m incredibly proud of the work that’s been undertaken to ensure the safe arrival, induction and ongoing support for our internationally educated or recruited colleagues.”

Pictured: Lillie Birch, Professional Development Nurse for International Recruitment, and Paul Kavanagh-Fields, Chief Nurse and Patient Safety Officer, with the NHS Pastoral Care Quality Award certificate.