Publish date: 1 December 2023

Internationally Educated Nurses at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust came together for a special celebration event.

The occasion, at Neeld Hall in Chippenham, included Simon Kasalu, a nurse from Zambia who recently met His Majesty the King at Buckingham Palace.

The event bought together Internationally Educated Nurses, those who have obtained their nursing qualifications outside of the UK education system, and who have joined the Trust through an international recruitment programme.

The Trust has welcomed 80 Internationally Educated Nurses from India and the African continent since 2021.

It most recently worked with partners from across the Integrated Care Board of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, to recruit from overseas.

During the celebration event, the nurses heard from a range of speakers from across the Trust and NHS England, who support their integration into the Trust, and took part in workshops to share learning and feedback.

Simon Kasalu, who is the first Internationally Educated Nurse recruited into AWP through this programme, is now helping to ensure staff joining from other countries are well supported on their arrival.

Earlier in the month, he attended a celebratory event at the palace to honour the contribution of international nurses and midwives working in the UK’s health and social-care sector.

He said: “I wore a scarf with the Zambian colours and the King said 'I can see you are coming from Zambia. Thank you very much for your services’.

"When I received the invitation for the reception at the King’s palace, I couldn't believe it. I never dreamt this would be part of my life story, so it's a real honour for me."

Following their arrival in the UK to join AWP, the nurses undertake integration training at the Trust and complete their OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) before they receive their Nursing and Midwifery Council pins to become registered nurses.

Director of Nursing and Quality Sarah Jones said: “It was great that we can once again bring together the Internationally Educated Nurses from across the Trust.

“These nurses are working in all areas across the Trust making an incredibly valuable contribution to the Trust, the NHS and to their patients.

“As with many jobs this process started with an application, but unlike most jobs candidates they have travelled thousands of miles, have moved their life to a new country, and undergone further training so they can carry out their ambition of working for the NHS.

“It is an incredibly brave decision to make and I am in awe of the wonderful and inspirational Internationally Educated Nurses who have joined us.”