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Welcome to overseas nurses bringing a boost to mental health services

Overseas nurses

Swansea Bay has welcomed a cohort of overseas nurses, whose breadth of experience will provide a boost to our mental health service.

Coming from as far afield as Africa and Australia, the trained nurses are being provided with a robust induction to mental health services to supplement the skills they already possess.

Stephen Jones, the health board’s Nurse Director for Mental Health Services and Disability, said the learning would be a two way street.

Speaking at a special welcome buffet he said: “They all have a nursing qualification but not necessary a mental health qualification – they will be provided with a robust induction to mental health service approaches to supplement the skills they already possess.

“They are fantastic, awesome. They bring a diversity of culture and massive amount of experience that will help challenge some of the things they we do in our own clinical areas.

“They will get placements across all our mental health services. They haven’t stretched into learning disability yet but they will in the future.”

While more than 500 nurses have arrived from around the world in the past few years, to boost the workforce and improve the level of care during a hugely challenging period, the most recent recruits are the first to benefit our mental health services.

The service has recruited than 40 nurses, via agencies and directly, to date with plans to welcome an additional 23 this year.

Stephen said: “Nurse recruitment in the UK is a challenge. The uptake in university places is currently down between 50 and 70%. That gives us an issue in terms of nurse training.

“As such we are looking to recruit from abroad to plug the gap over the next five to 10 years.”

Waone Tshiamo arrived from Botswana in January.

She said: “I’ve been in nursing for the last 23 years. In my country I have worked in several private hospitals and government hospitals. 

“The reason I came here is I have done so much in my country in nursing and I want to get a sight of the other side of the world and better my nursing skills.

“I haven’t started working yet but I have met the managers, they are welcoming, and I am looking forward starting.”


Waone (pictured above) said that she is settling into life in Swansea Bay.

“This my first time in Wales but the reception here is so good,” she said. 

“People here are welcoming. When I go out, I may not know the area but people will be directing me. I was so overwhelmed when I was in town and one lady actually took me to where I wanted to be. 

“I don’t regret coming here because of the atmosphere.”

The only downside for Waone is she misses her family. 

She said: “I left my family behind but I am hoping they will join me in December. 

“It’s not good to be away from your family, but if you are away for a purpose, it makes it easier.”

Mundeni Trained nurse Mundeni Jele (pictured right) aged 28, also arrived in January, from Swaziland. 

He said: “For me it was a good opportunity. Back in my country my professional life had a bit of a stall. I wasn’t progressing as much as I wanted to. Then I saw the opportunity to come to the UK.”

He also has settled into his new home.

He said: “Swansea is a nice place. Even though it’s still cold, I’m going to give the beach a try. I’m also going to watch some football because I’m a big football person. 

“So far I have found that everyone is helpful and everyone is nice.

“I have no regrets.”

Nurse Shannon boomerangs back

It’s a case of home and away for a nurse who has swapped Australia for Swansea Bay.

Shannon Shannon Williams is one of 35 overseas mental health nurses to have recently answered a plea for help from the health board, however, for her it’s a matter of returning home.

The 25-year-old was born in Swansea and spent her early years in the city before her parents decided on a move down under.

She said: “I was born in Singleton Hospital, and emigrated to Australia with my parents in 2010 when I was 10—years-old.

“We lived on the Gold Coast in Queensland in a place called Runaway Bay.

“Originally I didn’t want to go but it sank in, when we went there, that I was excited.”

On leaving school Shannon, who has dual citizenship, trained to be a nurse.

She said: “I qualified as a nurse in Australia and work as a mental health nurse. I moved around different areas such as emergency mental health, perinatal, and acute.”

Having built up an enviable amount of experience Shannon took the brave decision to head back to Wales – on her own.

She said: “I came back last July and joined Swansea Bay University Health Board. My mum, my dad and my brothers are still in Australia.

“I decided that I wanted a change. I was bored with Australia. As much as that’s very big to hear!

“I wanted a bit more of an opportunity, which I saw I would have in Swansea Bay, including, hopefully, being able to study for a masters here as well.”

Shannon, who is currently working in our Ty Einon community mental health, is happy to be back in Swansea.

She said: “I’ve no regrets. I’m enjoying it. People have been very welcoming. The health board has been fantastic in making it known how much they appreciate overseas nurses.”

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