‘I just wanted to live somewhere safe’ – Refugee nurses start new career at Addenbrooke’s Hospital

Five Palestinian nurses have started working at Addenbrooke’s Hospital as part of an NHS pilot scheme to recruit medically trained refugees.

The group are among 27 refugee nurses from Lebanon and Jordan who arrived in the UK in January.

All graduated as nurses in their home countries and are now resuming their nursing careers in hospitals across England.

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Before coming to Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH), the group completed an intensive four-week course in Liverpool.

It aimed to refresh their nursing skills and give them an introduction to working in the NHS and expected behaviours, values ​​and professional standards. They also received language support.



Zainab, from Beirut, who started working at Addenbrooke Hospital as part of an NHS pilot scheme to recruit medically trained refugees

All five will start working on the wards next week, initially employed in healthcare support staff roles.

Each will need to complete the necessary English language assessments and NMC processes in the coming months, before becoming registered nurses in England.

“I just wanted to live in a safe place”

Zainab and Ibrahim are from Beirut and recently graduated as nurses. When they enrolled in the NHS scheme, Cambridge was their first choice of workplace in England.

Zainab will start working in a short-stay medical ward and said, “I just wanted to live in a safe place and feel like I could pursue my career without having to worry about my safety all the time. I want to be a teacher one day. .



Football fan Ibrahim, who started working at Addenbrooke's Hospital as part of an NHS pilot scheme to recruit medically trained refugees, is eager to watch Cambridge United
Football fan Ibrahim can’t wait to watch Cambridge United

“Coming to the UK was a dream when I was in Lebanon, I still can’t believe I’m here.”

Another of the refugees, Ibrahim, is to work in an assessment unit.

He said: “There is no future for Palestinians in Lebanon, but here there is progress and opportunity.

“I’m a Manchester United fan and grew up watching the English Premier League. I can’t wait to watch Cambridge United play and support my new team.”

The experience was ‘an emotional roller coaster



Dima, one of the refugee nurses starting a new career at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge
Dima, from Lebanon

Dima is also a recent graduate from a nursing course in Lebanon and joins the team working in an acute frailty ward.

She said: “I would really like to work in research and develop a career in neurological care. This whole experience has been an emotional roller coaster and although we are very lucky to be here, it does not make us all forget those we left behind in Lebanon.”

Both Yasmine and Rana have extensive experience working in adult and pediatric intensive care units in Beirut and will join the intensive care teams at CUH.

Yamine said, “There was no future for me or my career, but now I have something to look forward to.”

Rana said: “Starting a new life at Cambridge is difficult, but as a group we look after each other and have had great support from the teams here at Addenbrooke’s.”



Both Rana (left) and Yasmine have extensive experience working in adult and pediatric intensive care wards in Beirut and will join the intensive care teams at Cambridge University Hospitals
Rana (left) and Yasmine

The five nurses want to develop their careers at CUH, benefiting from the hospital’s links with the University of Cambridge and cutting-edge research.

The pilot program is implemented by NHS England and NHS Improvement in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), International Organization for Migration (IOM), RefuAid , Reset and Talent Beyond Boundaries. (TBB).

According to UNHCR statistics, at the end of 2019 there were 133,094 refugees, 61,968 pending asylum claims and 161 stateless people in the UK.

Of these, many have previous experience in a range of healthcare roles, including nursing.

In addition, TBB and DHSC estimate that there could be at least 1,200 refugees with professional health training in Lebanon and Jordan seeking long-term solutions to exit displacement.

So far, 34 refugee nurses who were already living in the UK and 52 refugee nurses who were living in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq have participated in the programme.



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Welcoming the nurses to Addenbrooke, CUH Chief Nursing Officer Lorraine Szeremeta said: “CUH will provide you with ongoing pastoral support and further training to ensure everyone benefits from this program.

“You have already proven your skills and dedication and we look forward to supporting your careers in the future. Thank you for choosing to join us.”

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