THE Royal Bolton’s latest nursing recruits from Spain and Portugal have arrived — and will start work at the hospital next week.

A group of matrons and HR staff went to Madrid and Porto in June as part of a recruitment drive to bring qualified staff to Bolton.

Yesterday 15 out of the 40 new recruits were welcomed to the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and given a tour of the hospital.

Bev Tabernacle, deputy director of nursing, said: “There is a shortage of staff and that’s because of the recent emphasis on improving front-line nursing.

“We had a number of nursing vacancies that we needed to fill and have been lucky enough to go and do some international recruitment.”

Joni Guijarro Gomez has moved to Bolton with his wife from Spain.

The 24-year-old says the standard of healthcare in the UK was much better for nurses and for staff.

Mr Gomez, from Granada, said: “In the UK, the care for patients is very good.

“In Spain, it’s not like that in hospitals because of the financial problems.

“Here the nurses can progress and do well which is good for the community and better for the patients.”

Levi Correia, aged 26, from Portugal, added: “I always wanted to come to the UK to work.

“I’m hoping I will be able to train to work in the Intensive Care Unit in the future.

“I’m very excited to see how things work in this hospital. Before coming here I worked in Northern Ireland. Bolton is a nicer place.”

Hospital bosses announced plans to appoint 143 new nursing staff as part of a £2.5million investment a year ago.

But bosses admitted recruitment had been an issue because of a lack of training places.

Last December chiefs at the Royal Bolton had to look abroad to fill vacancies.

Pre-registration nurses are now given the opportunity to apply for a job nine months before they qualify.

The new recruits will start on Monday, August 25. and another 27 are scheduled to begin work full-time in September.

Royal Bolton Hospital bosses have recruited staff from abroad in the past.

Back in 2002, 24 nurses from the Philippines arrived in the town to fill a shortfall of nurses.

Many have settled in Bolton, made it their home and are still a vital part of the team at the Royal Bolton Hospital.