International Healthcare Workers
If you are looking to relocate to the UK, we can find you your ideal role. We have opportunities with NHS Trusts and private healthcare organisations throughout the country. So, whether you want to live and work in a city or prefer the countryside, we’ve got it covered. We make it our mission to help you every step of the way. With global offices offering end-to-end support, including assistance in preparation for English language proficiency testing, we can help you find a permanent position.
As one of the UK’s largest health and social care recruiters, we can help you secure your ideal role.
Discover more about the English language tests you will need to pass and how we can help.
Enjoy a smooth and seamless relocation to the UK with our wraparound support service.
Simply upload your CV and relax as we find you a role and guide you through the process.
International nursing case study – Ancy Joseph
We spoke to Ancy Joseph, Nurse at Lincoln County Hospital, about her experience of international recruitment, and why she chose to relocate to the UK for work…What does your new nursing role in the UK involve?I will be providing care to elderly patients at Lincoln County Hospital. It’s such a fantastic role! I’m taking part in the hospital induction programme at the moment, as well as preparing for the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) test.I have almost five years of nursing experience in India and decided I wanted to relocate and work for the NHS in the UK. Sanctuary International supported me in passing my Occupational English Test (OET) and the Computer Based Test (CBT). What made you want to work in the UK?I always wanted to work and live in the UK because of the fantastic health and social care opportunities available here. There’s so much to learn from both the profession as a whole, and my colleagues. Everything is very different in the UK, from the culture and weather, to the health care policies and procedures. What I really love is the opportunity to specialise in certain fields of nursing – this is something that’s possible here, but less so in India. How did you find out about Sanctuary International?I saw one of Sanctuary International’s adverts online, and did some research about them. It was clear how well the company looks after its international applicants and supports them throughout both the job search and relocation process, which I was impressed by.What was your relocation experience like?I relocated to Boston, Lincolnshire. It’s a calm and quiet place, which I like very much. Due to COVID-19, I went into quarantine for 14 days once I’d arrived into the UK. The weather was probably the biggest shock. I found it difficult coming from India’s climate and adjusting to the British weather. In the beginning, everything was new and took some getting used to. However, now I feel much more settled and at home. The relocation process was really smooth thanks to the Sanctuary International consultants. The time I’ve spent at the hospital so far has been positive too; the staff, my colleagues and the patients have been really welcoming and kind. The staff knew in advance that me and a few other international nurses would be joining the team, and they treated us warmly, answering any questions we had. I’m a long way from home, but the staff made me feel very much ‘at home’ which helped me to adjust to this new life. Some staff even provided us with groceries and checked that we had all we needed during the quarantine period.Although I’ve relocated on my own, I plan to begin the process of bringing my family over to join me once I’ve completed my OSCE test. How has Sanctuary International supported you?The team at Sanctuary International have been a huge support throughout the entire process. From March 2020 onwards, I’ve been in touch with the consultants at each step of the way. I was given useful information regarding what to do next, and what to expect. The contact has been constant – from mailers, to calls, and also WhatsApp group conversations. My experience with Sanctuary International has been a very good one and if I ever had any doubts or concerns, the team were always on-hand to clarify things. What advice would you give to someone looking to start a new life in the UK?Lincolnshire is a lovely place live and the Hospital there is great. It’s a very rural area and I have a nice garden, which I enjoy on my days off. To be working in the UK is a dream come true, and Sanctuary International made it possible. I’m very happy to be here.
Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) refunds and exemption
At Sanctuary International, we work with hundreds of overseas candidates each year, helping them find their dream health and social care roles in the UK. From interview prep, to helping candidates sort their visas and somewhere to live, we support them throughout the whole process. Which is why we’re pleased to see that, as of 1 October 2020, the Government’s Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) Reimbursement Scheme officially opened and that thousands of international health and social care workers are now exempt from paying the controversial fee. What is the Immigration Health Surcharge? The IHS is a fee added on top of the majority of UK visa applications and is in-place to fund healthcare from the NHS, which individuals can access when living here. The surcharge is not cheap, costing £400 per person, per year for applicants and each of their dependents; it’s set to rise to £624 for adults and £470 for children as of this month. Can I get a refund for the Immigration Health Surcharge? Due to the workers’ tireless and heroic efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, workers were able to claim reimbursement from the surcharge, a promise that was made by Government back in May 2020. Anyone who has a relevant visa and has worked in health or social care, without breaks in employment for at least six months and paid the IHS, will qualify for the refund. Those who qualify for the refund can apply now at gov.uk, where there’s helpful advice on how to claim. IHS refunds will be paid back in six-month instalments. Am I exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge? The new Tier 2 Health and Care visa, which launched in August 2020, ensures that staff from these sectors are exempt from paying the fee. Workers not covered by this particular visa, but who’ve been working for the NHS or in a social care role since 31 March 2020, are now able to claim an IHS refund for themselves and their dependents, even if they paid the surcharge before this date. For any queries regarding the IHS or the Tier 2 Health and Care visa, get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org
How many NHS hospitals are there in the UK?
The NHS is one of the largest employers in the world, and the biggest in Europe – with over 1.3 million staff. On a typical day, there are:835,000 people who visit a GP practice50,000 people visiting A&E departments36,000 patients in hospital for planned treatmentRead more about NHS patient activity. The NHS is certainly a rewarding place to work for overseas health professionals, with lots of exciting opportunities to make a real difference to patients’ lives. And there are many, many hospitals you could be working for; approximately 1,250 across the UK. Largest hospitalSt George’s Hospital is the largest in the UK, caring for 1.3 million people in southwest London, as well as populations in Surrey and Sussex, totaling around 3.5 million. It has 1,300 beds and 8,500 staff, as well as several centres of excellence, such as its stroke care and cardiology unit.Highest ranking hospitalsWant to find out how well a hospital is performing? Visit the Care Quality Commission website. It’s a regulator of health and social care in England, and rates services to ensure that people receive safe and high-quality care.Number of NHS trustsAn NHS trust is a healthcare provider, set up to deliver hospital and community services, and other aspects of patient care. There are 223 trusts in the UK (October 2019). However, and slightly confusingly, this number doesn’t match the number of hospitals; some trusts run more than one hospital, e.g. Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust runs nine in total. Number of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)Established in 2012, CCGs are responsible for planning most primary, community and hospital care services, including emergency care in their local areas. There are currently 191 CCGs in England (April 2019). For information on NHS careers, read our collection of blogs.
Our partnership with Alliance Medical Ltd for international recruitment
We speak to Claire Eckersley, Clinical Resourcing Manager at Alliance Medical Ltd about their international recruitment and why they chose to work with Sanctuary International.What is your role at Alliance Medical Ltd?My role as Clinical Resourcing Manager involves planning and creating relationships within our existing workforce and also looking at how we can recruit more staff. There’s approximately an 11% Radiographer skills deficit here in the UK so another part of my role is to develop relationships with universities running Radiography degree courses across the country. We can look to offer valuable support via clinical placements for Radiography students. Providers that traditionally offer placements are struggling because the demand for more radiographers means that universities need to attract more students, but they can’t do that if there are not enough placements available. It’s a vicious circle. That’s where we come in. We started to offer university placements for students on an informal basis called electives; students would typically spend a few days with us or maybe even a week. Now, we’ve formed partnerships with four universities where we can offer longer, more engaging placements for students to allow them to expand their learning and growth. We support undergraduates throughout their studies, and eventually offer them a place within our graduate scheme to learn MRI/CT or PET-CT; something I’m proud to have developed. I also look at the internal development and workflow of our staff and work with managers on recruitment; this includes the interview process, where I offer support from the clinical side of things (as I’m also a Clinical CT Senior Radiographer). A big focus of mine is exploring how we increase our pipeline with the EU and Brexit; we now look to recruit internationally in places we perhaps wouldn’t have before, which has opened up some exciting doors for us.Why did you choose to work with Sanctuary International?We first engaged with Sanctuary International about 10 months ago; we instantly connected with them as a business. I was working on an international project plan at the time, and part of that was asking, ‘how do we attract international applicants, and onboard them better than we currently do’? We had a big international workforce already, but we knew we could do it better and more consistently. Taking on this project gave our managers more assurance that we’d be getting high quality overseas applicants. The decision to work with an international recruitment partner like Sanctuary International was to attract a higher caliber of applicant, but also to give our staff some assurance of quality. When we were looking for an agency partner, we wanted to find someone who understood us as a business, our visions and values, and also who had a strong presence in the international marketplace. We needed guidance and support in this process and felt that Sanctuary International had the right approach to resourcing outside of the UK and that personable approach we were looking for. We knew we’d need to form a great working relationship with whoever we chose, and it was evident from the outset that they could deliver on this.Have you always recruited internationally?International recruitment has been part of Alliance Medical Ltd’s strategy for the last 10 years. Some years prior we had a large contract with NHS England to supply MRI services. We were looking for applicants in Canada and Australia on three-year contracts and recruited about 30 Radiographers. After that, we weren’t actively pursuing international applicants but still managed to attract them to our roles. This was largely due to referrals from existing staff (which is a big part of our international recruitment process too) whereby an overseas applicant would come and work for us, tell their friends and family back home, who’d then often come and work for us too. What has been your highlight?A highlight of international recruitment is seeing how impressed overseas applicants are with the training and development opportunities we’re able to offer them. They also express that their work/life balance is much better here. We see, as employers, how hard our overseas applicants work. Their work ethic is usually exceptional. This is because often they want to work here for a better life, not only for themselves but also for their families who they support back home. We have some international staff who are incredibly invested in Alliance Medical Ltd as a company, have been with us for 5-10 years and are now British Citizens. They’re keen to work for an organisation where they feel supported and part of something really important; a company that doesn’t take them for granted. What has been the main challenge?The integration process of new arrivals into our company, and into UK life generally. For some, moving to the UK is a very big cultural difference and can be daunting. So, to rise to this challenge, we pledged to do more as an organisation. This included raising our cultural and diversity awareness; something we’re proud to be doing as part of this recruitment drive with Sanctuary International. We’re soon to start our cultural and life awareness sessions for new overseas workers, and if we then feel that any individuals need further support, we can offer that via an external provider. We also try buddying new arrivals up with a mentor with the same nationality. Overall, we’ve found international recruitment to be a very positive experience. What advice would you give to other companies considering international recruitment? Ensure your interview process is really thorough. We do a two-stage interview process (an initial general interview, followed by a very robust clinical interview) to assess applicants’ skills. From our time working with Sanctuary International, we’ve realised the importance of having a strong partnership. This gives us an assurance that the applicants coming through to us are of a certain standard. Yes, this can take time to develop, but it’s totally worth it. I’ve been very pleased with the process so far.To find out more about the opportunities available at Alliance Medical Ltd, please get in touch.
What is the OSCE exam in the UK?
If you’re planning to move to the UK for a nursing role, you will need to sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). It’s a competency test that is part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) registration process for nurses and midwives trained outside the EU/EEA. What do you have to do in the OSCE exam?You will be required to act out scenarios that nurses and midwives are likely to experience when assessing, planning, delivering, and evaluating care in the UK. The exam is made up of six sections, using simulated patients in a clinical setting. Four of these are designed to test a person’s knowledge of assessment and evaluation of care, and the two remaining sections test clinical skills. How to prepare for the OSCE examIn the run-up to the OSCE exam, you will be given support and the opportunity to practise and prepare. An essential part of the preparation will be familiarising yourself with the NMC nursing exam blueprints. These will set out the content of the OSCE exam in terms of the topics and procedures that a newly registered nurse would need to know and be able to demonstrate. Other preparation support includes dedicated Facebook groups, mock exams and practice rooms. Where can I take the OSCE exam?Individuals must complete the OSCE exam in the UK, at an authorised test centre. There are now three universities that are approved OSCE test centres:University of NorthamptonOxford Brookes UniversityUlster University (Northern Ireland) How long do I have to sit the OSCE exam?A person coming into the UK for a nursing or midwifery role has up to three months, from the employment start date noted on their certificate of sponsorship (CoS), to sit the OSCE exam. During this time, they can be legally employed as a pre-registration candidate. For more information on sitting the OSCE exam, or for additional preparation advice, get in touch with Paul Hayward, our Head of Nursing (International).