ALMOST 100 new nurses are set to join Poole Hospital from overseas in the next few months as it works to tackle a shortage of staff.

Agency spending has risen significantly this year with efforts to fill dozens of vacancies domestically falling short.

As a result, the hospital has stepped up efforts to recruit from abroad and 99 overseas nurses are due to start their first shift by the end of the year.

Since April, more than £2.5 million has been spent on agency staff to cover shifts – double the figure for the same period two years ago.

For several years the hospital’s board has been running campaigns to recruit permanent staff from abroad.

Last year 42 nurses, mainly from Italy, India and the United Arab Emirates, joined.

However, efforts have been increased with recent new recruits coming from countries including Ghana and Trinidad and Tobago.

At last week’s meeting of the hospital board, directors were told to expect 99 more to join between September and the end of the year.

Jacqueline Cotgrove, workforce director, said several national and local issues were impacting on staffing levels.

“National challenges are playing out locally,” she said. “We provide a very wide range of services and it’s not the same everywhere but there is real concern about retention.

“We are continuing to lose more of our staff than we are able to recruit and that has an impact on the level of bank and agency we are using.

“Opportunities are arising in the community for some of our senior nurses and these can be quite attractive due to the shorter required hours.

“This should obviously prove beneficial in the long term but is proving challenging in the short term.”

The meeting was told that while vacancies were putting a strain on staffing levels, pressures were also being increase by some new demanding treatments, including some for cancer.

Overseas recruitment campaigns are also being run by the county’s other hospitals.

In May, directors at Dorset County Hospital said they may have to start a campaign to bring doctors in from outside the UK with many potential domestic recruits preferring to work in more urban areas to further their careers.

And last year, two Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals trust matrons visited Dubai, encouraging dozens of peoples to take up its jobs.