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Our team mission

Our team mission at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust is to support teams and news starters through both high-quality education and individualised pastoral care.

Why recruit from abroad?

There is a national shortage of registered nurses across the UK which makes recruiting a real challenge. This national shortage has in turn impacted the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, with many services running with high nursing vacancies.

National workforce statistics show that the adult nursing workforce has grown considerably in the last decade from 170,000 to 196,000. However, demand has also continued to grow.

The UK population is aging, which means there are more people retiring than there are younger workers beginning their careers, resulting in shortages in most work sectors. The health care sector is under additional strain as it is required to care for people who are living longer and have multiple health needs. Services provided have advanced in technology, enabling developments in treatments and therefore the survivability of particular conditions and situations.

We need to think about the multiple health needs of our population and specifically those in the local areas; some of our areas reflect huge diversity in terms of patients' cultural, ethnicity and religious background and we would like our workforce to reflect this diversity.

International recruitment in the NHS is closely governed by bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), NHS England and Improvement (NHSE & I) and NHS Employers to ensure any process is ethical; it is important to ensure our work to recruit nurses does not affect the status of an international health system in a developing country. The World Health Organisation sets a list of countries which it considers having ‘fragile' health economies and other countries are not permitted to actively recruit from this list. The list was last reviewed in February 2021.

It takes at least four months from the interview to arriving in the UK, and often at least six months' work will have gone in to preparing for the international application to work in the NHS. The decision to make this step is not taken lightly by our international colleagues, and we recognise the effort and sacrifices they make in order to work in our Trust.

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust nurse vacancy rates

In January 2021, we looked at the vacancy and turnover rates for the Trust. We know there are a number of vacancies but we can see that our turnover rate is not excessively high, which suggests vacancy rates are long term, reflecting supply issues, rather than staff retention issues. There have been improvements in nurse vacancy rates and a number of successful recruitment measures have been implemented. One solution to address the existing vacancies is to recruit internationally educated Allied Healthcare Professionals (AHPs).

Detailed discussions have been held with the ward leadership teams to agree the numbers of international recruits for deployment to each unit in the light of ongoing recruitment activity and the ability to support / induct them appropriately.


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all health systems around the globe and the UK government, NHSE & I and WHO have monitored the situation to advise on temporary adjustments to the usual rules. For example, from the end of April to mid-June 2021, there was a restriction imposed on nurses joining the NHS from India.

We receive updates directly from the national team at NHSE & I on such matters and follow the guidance provided.

Supporting international recruits

We recognise that the welcome and pastoral care our recruits receive has the potential to affect their immediate first impression and long-term settlement plans as well as their intention to remain at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust.

We have appointed a Pastoral Support Officer who will take a lead in setting up a network of ambassadors across the Trust to offer support to our new starters. These ambassadors do not need a clinical background. If you are interested in being part of this project, please get in touch with the team on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Your line manager will need to be aware before you volunteer to be a Pastoral Care Ambassador.

Supporting current staff at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

We recognise there is a need to support our existing staff to develop their skills, knowledge and experiences. To find out more, read about the potential ways to develop your career at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust.

Are you currently in a support role with current international registration?

We know there are many existing qualified nurses and therapists working in our Trust as Healthcare Assistants and Technicians. For many reasons they have not yet completed the process to achieve UK registration. We are currently exploring what the biggest challenges are (for example the language requirements, cultural considerations) to help inform our strategy on this topic.

You might also find these links useful:

  • Nursing and Midwifery Council – A step-by-step guide on how to register as a nurse or midwife if you trained outside of the UK
  • Health and Care Professions Council – Useful website for applicants who have completed professional training and practised outside the UK, and haven't been registered with the Health and Care Professions Council before

Offer an international recruit a homestay

We're looking for friendly, welcoming hosts who can offer our international recruits a room in their home for up to three months initially. This can be extended, by mutual agreement, if you wish.

Read more about offering an international recruit a homestay

You will be paid £500 per month rent in return for offering the new recruit a private room and access to a bathroom, kitchen and cooking facilities.

The Government's ‘Rent a room' scheme allows you to earn up to £7,500 per year tax free from letting out a room in your home. The full details on this scheme can be found on the website.

All nurses will have quarantined, where necessary, as per government COVID-19 guidelines.

For many of the recruits it is their first visit to the UK and a homestay helps them to feel welcome and get used to life in a new country.

Our International Workforce Development Team will be on hand to offer support and advice throughout their stay with you, and they have put together a set of frequently asked questions which should provide most of the information you need.

When you express an interest in hosting an international nurse you will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire and the International Workforce Development Team will match you with a recruit based on their work base and the information you provide.

Once matched, both you and the recruit will sign a contract that clearly sets out what is expected from each of you for the duration of their stay in your home. And the International Workforce Development Team will always be on hand to help you.

As most recruits will not have their own transport in their first few months, you will either need to live within walking distance of one of our Intermediate Care Units or Community Team bases or in a location with public transport links so that they can easily get to work.

One Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust staff member is already hosting international recruits in her Crawley home and she's shared her thoughts on the experience:

During a coffee break at work, I saw a poster about welcoming international nurses to the Trust. I had been thinking about renting out one or two bedrooms after my son left home, so I contacted the International Recruitment Team.

Following a property check, I was introduced to two nurses from Kerala, India. They arrived with a lot of luggage but between us we found space for everything! They have settled in well and seem to enjoy living in my home.

They are both based in Haywards Heath so I've shown them train timetables, how to get tickets at the station and how to use the local buses. We are respectful of each other and are managing to give each other the necessary space when using the kitchen and bathroom.

What I'm enjoying most is that they love to come and chat in the evenings whilst cooking or just relaxing. It's great learning about their lives and culture plus they seem to like learning about our country and my family. Even when they move on, I know we will keep in touch. We are already planning a trip to London together to see the sights.

The whole homestay process has been smooth and well organised. I would thoroughly recommend anyone who is able and has a spare room to give it a go. The experience so far has been a joy.

International Recruitment host

If you are interested in hosting an international nurse, or if you would like more information, please contact the International Recruitment Team on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Our team

The International Workforce Development Team is a newly formed team working across the Trust to support the needs of international recruits.

Who’s in the team

Belinda Alexander, Deputy Head of Clinical Education and Development (Nursing)

"I am a South African trained nurse with 35 years’ experience. For 21 of those years, I developed my skills within the NHS/UK with a wealth of experience and knowledge in different clinical settings. I am based in Crawley, West Sussex and like shopping, outdoor exploring and watching movies. I am a compassionate person who values family time together and likes to develop staff."

Scott Cassidy, Deputy Head of Clinical Education and Development (AHPs)

"I am in a new role as Deputy Head of Clinical Education and Development with an AHP Focus. I started my career working as a Physiotherapy assistant just over 20 years ago and went on to qualify as a physiotherapist in 2013. After spending time on rotations in the acute setting I made the leap to working in Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT) where I would specialise in community rehabilitation. During this time, I was supported by SCFT and the NIHR to undertake some post-graduate study in Clinical Research and a Training and Education award.

I have spent the last four years working in staff education and development, initially as a Clinical Skills Facilitator (CSF), then as a Professional Development AHP and now as one of the Deputy Heads of Clinical Education and Development Team. These roles have allowed me to be part of a team that develops new training offerings and supports staff at all levels in their personal, professional, and academic development.

In my spare time I enjoy mountain biking, attending rugby matches with friends, walking our family dog and going to the cinema with my wife and daughter."

Teresa Dale, Practice Development Nurse

"I have been a nurse for 20 years, and I have always believed in “making a difference” in everything that I am involved with. I am passionate about education and pastoral support and I have six years’ experience of supporting International Recruited Nurses in a Practice Development role. My hobbies include yoga, gardening and watching crime dramas."

Ananthu Ashok, Practice Development Nurse

"I have been in this profession for nine years and was trained as a nurse from India. Throughout my career, I've had the opportunity to work in various areas of nursing in different countries and I was keen to continue making improvements and systematic changes which enabled the well-being of patients, the organisation and myself. I like to indulge in long walks on the beach in my free time as I reside in Bognor Regis. I also really do enjoy exploring new places in my spare time with my family and love to do adventure sports."

Lisa Tyler, International Administrator

"I am an expat from the USA and have lived in the UK for 20 years. I am from Detroit – also known as a Detroiter - who loves Detroit Red Wings hockey team and American Blues music. My hobbies are mountain biking on the South Downs and learning to disco roller skate. I love trying my hand at creative writing and sitting down somewhere reading a book."

Anton Ebanks, Pastoral Support Officer

"I grew up in West London and then moved around the UK, living in the Midlands, Leicester, and Manchester, before returning down south to West Sussex 12 years ago, where I have been part of the NHS family for the last 10 years. I am also Secretary of Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust's EMBRACE Staff Network. My hobbies are spending quality time with my family, going to the gym, listening to music, dancing, photography and meeting new people from all parts of the globe."

Lucy Scragg, Assistant Director of Nursing

"I have been a Registered nurse for over 27 years. In my role, I am responsible for professional nursing leadership. I am very passionate about staff wellbeing and the relationship with patient and staff experience. I live in Brighton with my family and two cats. My interests include being out in nature, travelling in my campervan, being in the garden and enjoy spending time with my family and friends."

Contact the International Recruitment Team

For general information and advice, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For homestay information and advice, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Page last reviewed: 08 March 2024
Next review due: 08 September 2024