Coronavirus highlights role of foreign staff in British hospitals
Joan Pons Laplana is a senior digital charge nurse working on the frontline in an intensive care unit treating coronavirus patients at Sheffield Teaching Hospital in the north of England.
Like many of his colleagues in the state-run National Health Service (NHS), the 45-year-old medic is not British.
The Spanish national works alongside people from Germany, Italy, Portugal, Philippines and India, as well as those from the UK.
“Sometimes the most difficult accents to understand are the British ones,” Laplana, who has lived in the UK for 20 years, told AFP.
The international mix of staff at Sheffield is far from untypical in British hospitals.
Parliamentary figures published last July show that some 153,000 workers out of 1.2 million NHS staff are non-British.
“This is 13.1 percent of all staff for whom a nationality is known, or just over one in eight,” it reported.
“Between them, these staff hold 200 different non-British nationalities.
Around 65,000 are nationals of other European Union countries—5.5 percent of NHS staff in England. Around 52,000 staff are Asian nationals, according tot the parliamentary figures.
Among the most common 16 nationalities of people working for the NHS were Indian (21,207), Nigerians (6,770) and Zimbabweans (4,049).