Six paramedics recruited following £44,000 East of England Ambulance Trust visit to Poland
- Credit: Archant 2013
Six paramedics have been recruited to the region's ambulance trust as part of a £44,000 scheme to find staff from outside the UK.
In a bid to address a shortage of medics the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) sent 12 members of its staff to Warzaw, Poland, where recruitment agency Hays had lined up local paramedics for interview and assessment.
EEAST's delegation were hoping to see 36 candidates during the two-day trip - but only 14 turned up.
Five of those candidates had so poor English skills or lacked the necessary clinical quality that they were not employable to EEAST.
And of the nine who were offered jobs just six paramedics accepted the trust's offer.
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The recruitment scheme in Poland cost the trust £44,052, with each candidate costing £7,342.
However the trust insisted the trip was a 'worthwhile exercise'.
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A spokesman said: 'The important groundwork made on this recruitment trip provides the basis for further recruitment opportunities that we can use to employ paramedics who will give outstanding care to our patients.'
They said investing in recruitment offered far better value than hiring agency staff.
'To train a paramedic in the UK takes three years and we have a requirement for staff now in the context of a national shortage of this skill,' the spokesman added.
The six paramedics will still need to go through EEAST training before working independently on the road.
In its report the trust said it had 'communicated our areas of disappointment' to Hays.
It said chiefs would consider using Skype to get a better idea of foreign candidates' clinical knowledge and English language skills.
Fraer Stevenson, Unison branch secretary, said the trust should focus on being more responsive and supportive towards its current staff, which would help retention.
'We are still seeing far too many existing staff choosing to leave the ambulance service and this is very worrying,' she said.
'If the trust was more responsive and supportive towards staff it would make us a more attractive employer.'
Student paramedics at the trust meet ambulance chiefs tomorrow over a grievance raised about delays to their training, which they claim has impacted on their wages.