MORE than 1,600 international recruits are now playing vital roles as doctors, nurses and health professionals after joining an Essex mental health trust over the last three years.

The Essex Partnership University Trust celebrated all its international recruits on Friday as it celebrated “Overseas NHS Workers Day”.

The international recruits all joined the trust since it launched its international programme in 2021 to help fill vacancies in the NHS.

Echo: Dr Aditya DevulapalliDr Aditya Devulapalli (Image: Essex Partnership University Trust)

The trust was among the first mental health trusts to be authorised by the General Medical Council to facilitate an international recruitment initiative for psychiatrists.

The international programme grants an opportunity for qualified psychiatrists abroad to advance their career at the trust.

As it stands, 33 doctors from Egypt, India, Sudan, Nepal, Nigeria, and Pakistan have been appointed, with 28 currently serving across the trust.

Dr Prashanth Peethala, the first doctor to arrive under the scheme in August 2021, said: “It’s been quite an eventful journey - I really enjoy it.

“Initially it was a bit challenging but what I found was that I was very lucky because the people around me were very supportive and I got to learn a lot more than I imagined I would learn. It’s not just the knowledge about the subject, but it’s also about people and the people that I’m working with.

“That I think has been the most interesting part of the journey.”

Echo: Olivia ChukwuOlivia Chukwu (Image: Essex Partnership University Trust)

The trust had been recognised with an NHS Pastoral Care Quality Award for the support it renders to the 240 nurses through the International Recruitment programme.

This initiative has improved workforce diversity, filled key vacancies, and cut down on resources spent on bank and agency staff, anchoring the trust’s standing as a leading health and wellbeing service provider in mental health and community care.

Dr Aditya Devulapalli completed his residency and taught students in India. He has been at the trust for just over a month.

He said: “I appreciate the way holistic care is delivered to the patients and I look forward to undergo higher training here.

“It has been great. I’m loving what I am doing. My work-life balance is more organised, and colleagues are extremely helpful and have really helped me understand the system.

“And I am able to do what I love, which is teaching as well, so that’s great, it’s been good so far.”

Echo: Hephzibah ChintaHephzibah Chinta (Image: Essex Partnership University Trust)

Dr Kallur Suresh, who presides over the trust’s advanced fellowship in psychiatry programme with Dr Abdul Raoof, said: “The trust is one of the earliest trusts to offer this opportunity for International Fellows to further enhance their training and experience in the UK.

“These doctors have provided stability to many services and have helped us launch new services, such as our Urgent Care Department in Basildon.”

Olivia Chukwu, from Nigeria, is currently completing a university degree alongside her work at the Mental Health Urgent Care Department.

Olivia said: “My journey in the UK has been interesting and educational, although challenging at times. Attitudes towards mental health are very different in the UK and it has been a wonderful experience to see how things are done here.

“I’ve found my feet here. I love making contributions during team meetings and putting forward recommendations to improve patient care.

“After completing my bachelor’s degree, I’d like to progress to a master’s degree so I can keep improving people’s lives and contributing to the NHS.”