Our Services Publications Case Studies South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust HCSWD programme supports spouses of international nurses to bring their skills to the NHS

HCSWD programme supports spouses of international nurses to bring their skills to the NHS

A South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust case study

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New programme designed to attract and train the spouses of international nurses for NHS roles

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Eight candidates secured a place as part of this initiative in 2023

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Six more candidates offered a place in a cohort that started their training in January 2024

The Situation

NHS Professionals have worked with South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust since 2002 delivering their Managed Bank. Since 2019, we have also supported the Trust with the recruitment of international nurses.

At the start of 2023, during a round of inductions for some new international candidates, the Trust identified that many of these registered nurses came to the UK with a spouse who also had a clinical background. We worked with the Trust to devise a solution which enabled the spouses to have their own pathway into an NHS career through our Healthcare Support Worker Development (HCSWD) programme.


"The NHS Professionals team have worked closely with our e-rostering team to ensure the HCSWs were supported from all aspects. NHSP supported with the recruitment and initial training and then handed over to the Trust e-rostering team. The success of this programme has meant that South Tees has benefitted from the provision of more highly skilled nurses and we foresee this being an ongoing offering at the Trust. I would recommend this solution to other Trusts who have not realised the benefits of helping qualified spouses of international nurses into NHS careers."

Debi McKeown - Interim Nurse Workforce Lead at South Tees Hospitals NHS FT


The Solution

Our first step was to understand more about the Trust’s requirements. Once understood, we designed a route into the NHS for this untapped talent pool of clinical professionals.

We gathered data from the Trust and the international nurses about how many of the arriving spouses were already nurses in their home country and the level of their expertise. Many of them were highly trained but did not have the appropriate UK nursing certificate to apply for roles immediately.

In March 2023, we invited these candidates to join our six-month HCSWD programme. The HCSWD programme provided them with on-the-job learning and experience of working within the NHS as a Healthcare Support Worker.

Once they completed their training, they would be able to join the NHS Professionals Bank and pick up Healthcare Support Worker shifts or pursue further options with the Trust, such as OSCE training to become a registered nurse.

To do this, the Trust and NHS Professionals organised weekly sessions to provide guidance to candidates on how to complete their applications and what documents they needed to produce for each round of checks. The Trust also supported this activity by providing ad-hoc English language training to make sure each candidate’s transition was as smooth and informed as possible. The effort was a true collaboration, with NHS Professionals working closely with the Trust to support candidates through the process.

Interviews were held throughout April 2023, with the successful candidates starting their training in May 2023.


"I received a good amount of guidance regarding applying for the HCSWD programme and received a prompt response from the NHS Professionals team whenever I asked for help, which made the whole process fast. This programme gave me a chance to enter a Healthcare Assistant (HCA) career, a role I had been actively applying for. The main benefit I experienced, thanks to the HCSWD programme, was its flexibility and I would love to continue as an HCA at the hospital after the programme. Overall, I am thankful to NHS Professionals for all their support throughout the process."

Jomon Jose, HCSWD Candidate at South Tees Hospitals NHS FT


The Results

From the April 2023 cohort of HCSWD candidates, a total of 25 have been onboarded onto the programme. Of these, eight were spouses to international nurses at the Trust.

After fulfilling the required hours of experience, the HCSWD candidates gain a care certificate which will assist them with progressing their NHS career, opening up new opportunities with the Trust and NHS Professionals.

The Trust have been a committed and collaborative partner for this project, taking on more HSCWD candidates than their demand of 15 per cohort to invest in developing these professionals.

We also collaborated to work on innovative ways to support both the substantive international nurses and their spouses going through the HCSWD programme. For example, we were able to accommodate their shifts to align with their spouse’s rota, making sure they have the flexibility they need for childcare.


"I found out that my partner would be eligible for the HCSWD programme through one of my friends. I then contacted NHS Professionals and received a quick response. The programme gave my partner a good opportunity to work in a UK hospital setting, as he is a qualified nurse from India. The hospital atmosphere is a familiar place for him to work and he thoroughly enjoys it. The main benefit of my spouse doing the HCSWD programme is its flexibility which makes arranging childcare easier. Thank you to NHS Professionals for the ongoing support!"

Asha George, International Nurse at South Tees Hospitals NHS FT


The Future

With international nurses being delivered to the Trust on a regular, rolling basis, we intend to offer this HCSWD opportunity for any accompanying spouses with clinical experience to each new cohort on arrival. Most recently, this resulted in a further six candidates being offered a place in a cohort that started their training in January 2024.


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