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Mental health trust’s recruitment pledge

PUBLISHED: 12:58 01 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:58 01 March 2014

Andrew Hopkins, acting chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Andrew Hopkins, acting chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Archant

A mental health trust, which has cut hundreds of jobs over the past year, is looking to launch a recruitment campaign overseas to help fill vacancies, it has emerged.

Bosses at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) admitted that they have 505 vacancies at the organisation, which is in the midst of a major overhaul of services. As part of a new recruitment strategy, the mental health trust is looking into the possibility of hiring new staff from Ireland and Portugal.

Campaigners last night spoke of their surprise at the move, which comes after around 400 jobs were cut as part of a radical redesign of NSFT to reduce the trust’s budget by 20pc. Officials from the organisation said they were actively recruiting 361 of the 505 vacancies.

Andrew Hopkins, acting chief executive, said a number of vacancies had been kept open during the restructure and some staff had decided against moving across the organisation’s five areas. However, the trust had just recruited nine consultants and an overseas campaign was more of a long-term solution.

“It is one of many options. Portugal has been a favourite for a number of trusts, but a large part of the strategy is looking across the UK. Ireland is more favourable and Portugal less likely.”

In a report to directors, Jane Marshall-Robb, director of workforce, said the trust was facing “unprecedented” challenges around recruitment, meaning a “more creative approach” was needed.

However, union officials spoke of their concern that experienced and skilled staff had left the NHS trust.

Carol Briggs, Unison branch secretary, said: “We are concerned at the cost of recruiting staff externally, and question the timing when there is no indication how many staff will be transferring back to Norfolk County Council as a result of the Section 75 agreement being revoked.”

Members of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk will be demonstrating outside Hellesdon Hospital, in Norwich, at 10am today over a lack of beds.

What are your experiences of mental health services? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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