HOSPITAL bosses are going back to the continent to hire more nurses.

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust is returning to Spain following a successful recruitment campaign for specialist nurses in the country earlier this year.

And this time managers are extending the hunt to include Portugal in a bid to encourage medical nurses to come over to Sussex.

The trust runs Worthing Hospital, St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester and Southlands Hospital in Shoreham.

Sandie Ellard, deputy director of nursing, said: “Over the last five years we have invested heavily, and significantly increased the number of nurses and healthcare assistants on our wards, and our staffing numbers compare well with other hospitals.

“The trust regularly advertises for nurses in the UK but it is not possible to meet demand only from nurses trained here.

“Getting even more permanent, experienced nursing staff is good news for patients, who will benefit from greater consistency of care, and from being looked after by staff who are able to get to know them over time.”

Demand on services has increased at the trust, putting extra pressure on existing staff.

Bosses have been forced to use temporary agency staff or from its own pool of workers, to help provide cover when staff are sick, on holiday or on maternity leave.

The campaign earlier this year led to more than 50 new nurses joining the trust and bosses are aiming for about the same number this time around.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, among others, has recently held a successful recruitment campaign in the UK.

However it also has plans to look further afield in the future.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Eastbourne District General Hospital and the Conquest in St Leonards, said it had no plans at this stage to recruit from abroad.

Other countries approached by hospitals in Sussex in the past have included the Philippines and Ireland.