York Hospital 'vulnerable' after hotels block-booked for asylum seekers

York Hospital

Hospital bosses say they have been left in a "very vulnerable position" after hotel rooms usually used for international nurses were booked out by the government to house asylum seekers.

York Hospital uses rooms at two hotels in the city to accommodate overseas nurses while they undertake the exams needed to qualify to work in the UK.

But now the Home Office has block-booked both venues to host those seeking asylum, leaving the hospital struggling to find alternative accommodation, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Polly McMeekin, director of workforce and organisational development at York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, told a board meeting the trust had initially been given just four weeks' notice to vacate the rooms, but said it had pushed back and was then given until December.

She said: "York has a dearth of accommodation. [This] leaves us with no other accommodation - we've explored the military, we've explored universities. That would leave us in a very vulnerable position.

"This is a vulnerability in our international recruitment pipeline, which is obviously a significant element of the trust priority plan."

Recruiting from abroad is a key part of the hospital's strategy because of a shortage of nurses within the UK.

There were around 130 nursing vacancies across the hospital trust in September, though hospital bosses hope to reduce that number to around 50 by December.

The trust pays for overseas nurses' accommodation while they undertake exams.

It comes after it was revealed last month that City of York Council had been chosen by the government - along with other cities - to host families and couples needing support and accommodation.

Coun Darryl Smalley, executive member for communities, said previously: "Whilst hotels are better than tents, we have very serious concerns over the Home Office's increased use of hotels to house asylum seekers. This is a short-term solution and an incredibly costly and failed strategy.

"York's recent experience of the Home Office using a local hotel to house asylum seekers is the clearest evidence that we need a better, more integrated and humane approach."

ITV News has contacted the Home Office for comment.

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