By Ryan Harrison
PROFESSIONAL medical staff from the Balearics are being recruited by the British National Health System (NHS) to fill gaps in its understaffed hospitals.

Nurses and Pharmacists on the islands have been called over to the UK following a recruitment programme which aimed to meet the needs of the NHS through the surplus of Spanish Health Professionals.

Set up in 2001 by the British Embassy in Madrid and the Department of Health in Britain, the initiative has seen over a thousand Spanish medical staff sent to the NHS.

Staffing shortages in the UK have been blamed on the lengthy training period for medical students.
Whereas in Spain this period is less, and has created a surplus of unemployed medical professionals.
The scheme, set up by the then Minister of Health in Spain Celia Villalobos and U.K. Health Minister Alan Milburn, has successfully recruited, from the Balearics alone, 15 nurses and pharmacists to go and work in Health Care Trusts across Britain.

A total of about 900 nurses from the rest of Spain have also been transfered through the scheme.
All the Trusts involved have been impressed by the standard of care the Spanish nurses provide and their clinical skills.
As from June 2002 49 pharmacists in Spain have started work in 23 different NHS Trusts throughout the UK.
This successful recruitment drive by Britain comes at a time when the local health service is facing a crisis.
The Balearic government has appealed for extra funding from Madrid to cover medical costs of visiting tourists and the increase in the size of the population.

A Balearic government spokesperson said yesterday that despite the fact that thousands more tourists were being treated in local hospitals, they were receiving little compensation.

Yesterday, the Bulletin reported how tourists have praised the local National Health Hospitals on the island, but that the Balearic government was finding it hard to cover the cost of this treatment.

In recent weeks Majorcan–based doctors have defended the NHS in Britain and have said the Spanish could learn a lot from their British counterparts.
One Health Trust Director in the UK, who has benefited from the recruitment of Spanish medical staff, speaking in the Bulletin, said the foreign medical staff they received have been vital to their Trust.

Martin Whittle, Director of Lincolnshire's three Partnership Trusts, said: “The transfer has been very successful. The standard of doctors recruited is fantastic, a resounding success.”


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