The NHS has spent £3M on expense paid travel to recruit overseas doctors: staff have made 750 jaunts to places including the Philippines, Italy, Spain, UAE and Australia
- Data from 88 acute NHS trusts in England showed at least £3.347m was spent
- Teams sent on cost-paid trips overseas to hire more doctors and nurses
- The Taxpayers Alliance findings found the Philippines to be the most popular destination
More than £3million of taxpayers’ money has been spent by NHS trusts on more than 750 overseas recruitment trips, new figures have revealed.
Data from 88 NHS acute trusts in England show that between 2016-17 and 2018-19 at least £3.347million was spent on 762 paid trips abroad to hire more doctors and nurses.
Teams have been sent to a total of 15 countries, including Italy, Australia, Spain and the Philippines, to help recruit more staff and fill NHS vacancies.
The findings were uncovered as part of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by the Taxpayers Alliance, reports The Telegraph.
The latest figures come just weeks after it was revealed that hospitals were recalling staff from holidays or days off to keep hospitals operating amid an increase in the Omicron variant and a shortage of staff .
More than £3million was spent by NHS trusts between 2016-17 and 2018-19 to hire more doctors and nurses. (File image)
According to the latest figures, Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has spent £166,170 to fund a total of 107 overseas trips.
The overseas trips included six visits to India, two to Australia and eight to the Philippines.
The Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust spent £415,184 and hired 107 nurses over a three-year period while George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Warwickshire has spent £243,524 and hired 26 staff.
Elsewhere on The Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust spent £8,610 on each of the four staff recruited.
However, the figures also revealed Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn NHS Foundation Trust spent just £126 per recruit.
Findings from the Taxpayers Alliance also revealed that among the most popular countries to fly were the Philippines, followed by India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
TaxPayers’ Alliance research director Duncan Simpson told The Telegraph: “These figures raise questions about the huge disparities in spending on overseas recruitment.
“Taxpayers pay huge sums for comprehensive health care and expect to get the vital services they need, without funding expensive excursions.
“Trusts need to make sure they get what they pay for, especially when it comes to overseas jaunts for NHS staff.”
An NHS spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘International recruits have always been an invaluable part of the NHS workforce. However, we expect individual trusts to recruit in a cost-effective manner.
Data from 88 NHS acute trusts showed £3.347million was spent on 762 overseas trips with expenses paid. (File image)
Last month, NHS Confederation chief Matthew Taylor said the system was in a ‘state of crisis’ as hospitals recalled staff from vacation due to a staff shortage.
Mr Taylor said: “In many parts of the health service we are in a state of crisis right now. Faced with high levels of demand and absence of staff, some hospitals must declare a “critical incident”.
“Some hospitals are making urgent appeals to exhausted staff to give up rest days and leave to allow them to maintain basic services. Many other hospitals are having to ban visitors in an attempt to reduce the spread of infection.
“NHS England continues to plan for surge capacity. Community and social services, which were already massively stretched, are at breaking point.
“In many areas, ambulance services are unable to meet their target response times.
‘Primary care must add the care of Covid-19 patients and try to keep them out of hospitals to drive the recall program and deal with unprecedented underlying demand which is partly driven by the millions of sick people waiting for appointments and operations. ”
It came as Boris Johnson pledged to ‘make sure we take care of our NHS in every way possible’.
In September last year, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned that health services will still need more money three years from now.
The think tank said investment in health services to help deal with Covid-19 over the next two years was at the right level, matching their estimates of what would be needed.
But he said a further £5billion – which was not included in the government’s announcements – will be needed in 2024/25 to cope with pandemic-related pressures.