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Building understanding of international recruitment through lived experience

HEE Webinar - International recruitment of AHPs and their experience

In 2021 HEE commissioned specific work to better understand the issues of international recruitment of AHP’s through the examination of individual’s experience. The learning of the project tied into a pilot programme aimed at supporting AHP trained refuges currently in the UK to gain their HCPC registration and employment in the NHS. This led to recommendations for key areas of future work. These were presented nationally in the form of 2 webinars hosted by HEE in January 2022, alongside the individual accounts of two internationally trained AHP’s of their experiences in gaining employment in the UK. The accounts reflected the challenges below and provided a great opportunity for UK employers and professional organisations to hear first-hand about the barriers frequently experienced by AHP’s looking to work in the UK

Key areas identified as significant challenges to international recruitment identified by the project were:


  • HCPC registration - Professional Standards 
  • NHS system knowledge 
  • Language proficiency

Pastoral Support 

  • Onboarding 
  • Cultural barriers 


  • Continuous professional development 
  • Belonging and wellbeing 


These webinars offer an interesting insight into the lived experience of two international recruits and a broader perspective on the HEE international recruitment workstream (2021-22). You can view the most recent recordings by clicking here.   

Final report

The Ethical and sustainable recruitment of International AHPs report aims to improve the understanding of organisations and recruiting managers in the ethical and sustainable recruitment of international Allied Health Professional (AHP’s) based on their lived experiences. It recognises the challenges faced by the 14 AHP professions and provides case studies to illustrate good practice approaches. 

Supportive tools for managers

Identified as crucial to recruit international AHP’s is the recruitment, on-boarding and pastoral support experienced by the candidates.

Click here to access the NHSEI Nursing Pastoral Quality Care Award web page

For further information on the NHSEI Nursing Pastoral Quality Care Award or to obtain an application pack please contact NHSEI Nursing International Recruitment team on nhsi.workforce@nhs.net

Barriers frequently experienced by AHP’s looking to work in the UK 

The barriers identified from the accounts of the two trained AHPs and what employers can do to overcome these are highlighted below:

Employers can better support applicants by understanding the process and taking this into account during their recruitment cycle.

Employers can better support this through positive recruitment and onboarding practices.

This can negatively impact a candidates’ application compared to a UK based AHP, and present difficulties in adaptation to work environments.

Employers can:

Better support by encouraging applications from abroad, being clear on job roles, banding and expectations, alongside offering more “values-based” recruitment processes.

Employers may also make positive inclusion decisions when shortlisting candidate and ensure an extensive induction / preceptorship programme for all new international recruits.

Employers can better support by offering effective on-boarding and pastoral support, shadowing opportunities and mentoring programmes, and providing a work-based buddy to support for day-to-day issues.

Employers should also consider preparing their current workforce by raising the local cultural and support requirements of staff to best support and integrate international recruits.

Employers can also support the international recruits to make positive relationships to local BAME, diaspora or professional groups.