Associate director Trish Spruce collects MBE from Prince William


Associate director Trish Spruce collects MBE from Prince William

Wednesday 7 February was a very proud day in the Spruce household as our associate director for international recruitment, Trish, was awarded an MBE by Prince William.

Trish Spruce was given the honour in a ceremony at Windsor Castle for her outstanding services to the NHS, particularly around recruiting international medics to the NHS.

Hailing from a very industrial background in Stoke-on-Trent, which is famous for its pottery, Trish was the first member of her family to go through university prior to starting her career in resourcing.

“I’m so incredibly proud and humbled to have been awarded an MBE, and it’s a true testament to the amazing work of our whole team,” she says.

“I see myself as just one small cog in the journey of our overseas colleagues, so I’m really proud that my small part has been recognised in this way.

“On the day I went to Windsor Castle to collect my MBE, I was completely emotional and overwhelmed, I actually started crying as soon as I arrived at the castle – my husband wasn’t much better either!

“The grandeur of the whole occasion was just incredible – wow! Prince William presented me with the honour and it was lovely to hear him talk about the care international nurses have provided his family, as well as how much him and Kate valued the NHS – it was a really emotional moment for me.

“William was softly spoken and very humble, talking about his family, particularly at this moment, and how much they appreciate the work done by NHS colleagues.

“I was nominated for the MBE by a colleague at NHS England, though I’ve never actually found out who, and it remains a mystery to this day…but I’m very thankful.”

Trish has worked in the NHS for over 20 years, originally at a large acute trust in Stoke-on-Trent, but always in recruitment and resourcing, including roles in the private sector where she recruited tyre fitters!

She moved down to Somerset almost a decade ago and has worked for our trust for seven years, starting off at Yeovil District Hospital where she helped the legacy trust to meet the challenge of high vacancies, a number of looming retirements and a difficulty in retaining colleagues.

Trish continues: “When I first began my career in the NHS all those years ago there actually weren’t that many nurse vacancies, so the trust that I worked for hadn’t really recruited internationally at that time.

“But the number of UK-based people going into the nursing profession began to reduce nationally, and that was certainly something I noticed when I made the move to Yeovil, particularly as we were a smaller hospital and many student nurses were attracted to the bright city lights!

“We knew that we were heading into a bigger problem, and although the trust had tried to recruit internationally before I arrived here, it wasn’t very successful with a low conversion rate from interview to starting in role.

“We also didn’t really have the infrastructure in place to support enough nurses to come over to work here.”

It was in 2017 that Trish became involved in the first major international recruitment drive when she teamed up with Gemma Jorge, one of our ward sisters at YDH, to discuss a potential visit to the Philippines.

As Gemma is originally from the Philippines, she was able to use her insight to set up a comprehensive recruitment programme.

“Within that 12 month period of intensive international recruitment, our ward nursing vacancies reduced as a result of the programme,” Trish adds.

“We put a new infrastructure in place within our team, where we looked at how we could safely get our prospective new colleagues from overseas to the UK, taking into consideration things like accommodation, training and general pastoral care.

“This was so successful that it led to the creation of Yeovil International Recruitment, where we recruit on behalf of a number of NHS trusts across England and Scotland, with over 3,500 international candidates working for the NHS nationally.

“For us, it wasn’t just about that person taking a job, but more understanding that they were moving their whole life from overseas to the UK, including their family.

“In fact, I’ve seen some of those colleagues who first arrived with us back in 2017 now in senior nursing posts – that has been really satisfying.

“Of course, we only went to countries where there was a surplus of nurses and where they trained more than they needed, specifically for them to come to the UK.

“I’ve seen first-hand the improvement, not just in their own lives, but the lives of their families back home too. For me it’s fantastic that a solution for the trust has also positively impacted on families overseas as well.”

From all of us at the trust, a huge thank you and well done to Patricia Spruce MBE!