THE trust running Colchester’s two NHS hospitals has strenuously denied allegations Spanish nursing staff are unable to read drugs charts.

However, it has partnered the Spanish nurses up with staff “buddies” to help them learn the ropes.

A nurse at Essex County Hospital claims the Spanish staff can’t read drugs charts and have to be supervised to administer the medication.

Last month, a recruitment drive was launched to bring 50 Spanish nurses to Colchester.

The trust is already introducing 68 nurses from Madrid after failed attempts to recruit locally.

The woman said: “The trust is recruiting nurses from Spain, most of which have poor English and can’t read the drugs charts and can’t give out the drugs.

“Therefore, we have to have extra staff nurses in to help them.

“They are not allowed to work alone - they are like students.”

A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As with all new staff, the nurses we have recruited from Spain need time to acclimatise to our systems and protocols, which is why they have each been allocated a senior nurse as a ‘buddy’.

“Even though these recruits are all senior nurses, they are treated as newly-qualified nurses and supervised at all times until they can be signed off as having achieved all the necessary competencies.

“The nurses we recruited in Spain had to pass an English examination before we would consider offering them employment.

"Those who had all the qualifications and appropriate clinical skills but whose English was sub-standard were not considered.

“As part of the recruitment process, they had to pass a drugs calculation test and the nurses from Spain performed extremely strongly in this area.

“If the nurse who has contacted the Gazette has any concerns regarding the safety of patients, we would urge this individual to raise their concerns with their ward sister or matron.

“Alternatively, they can also contact the confidential Raising concerns helpline which the trust launched in March in partnership with our staff side union representatives.

“Frankly, we would have thought the nurse will be pleased for patients the trust has taken on additional nurses, regardless of where they come from.”