SPANISH nurses are being snapped up by the NHS despite not speaking sufficient English.
NHS trusts are ignoring the language barrier to lure nurses from Spain and Portugal with the promise that their salaries will be doubled for doing a third less work.
An increase in the number of recruitment fairs held in Spain and Portugal has lead to nurses being employed with low or non-existent levels of English.
Critics claim the ‘inevitable language barrier’ between staff and patients could have ‘catastrophic consequences’ and will ‘put patients at risk’.
The chief executive of the UK’s Patients Association, Katherine Murphy, said: “The professional qualifications of overseas nurses are not in doubt.
“But there can sometimes be communication difficulties which increases the chances of something going wrong or patients receiving less than optimal care.
“We are wasting precious NHS money on overseas recruitment firms when we should be investing in training more British nurses.”
Dr Peter Carter, of the Royal College of Nursing, added: “By recruiting in a hurry, the NHS is trying to paper over the cracks that formed when the UK was failing to train and retain its own nurses.
“There is no excuse for having nurses arrive on wards without good communication skills and all the clinical skills needed to deliver high levels of care.”
NHS trusts have turned to European countries in recent years to fill the country’s 20,000 full-time posts.
Spain and Portugal have become the most popular destinations where the economic recession has created a huge pool of low-paid and unemployed nurses.