Nurses who moved from the Philippines to help care for patients in North Wales mark the 20th anniversary this March.
In 2001 due to a shortage of nurses in the UK the NHS recruited nurses from the Philippines who have become key members of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).
Arniel Hernando was one of the first nurses who came to North Wales, he started at Ysbyty Gwynedd as a nurse and is now the Lead Surgical Advanced Nurse Practitioner at the hospital.
Arniel, 50, said: “My friend told me about Wales recruiting nurses from the Philippines, and she really recommended it, so I was fortunate enough to be successful and was placed in Ysbyty Gwynedd.
“I never thought when I first arrived that I would be lucky enough to work in senior management, but my managers have always seen potential in me and encouraged me to continue my education, and take every opportunity to progress my career.
“A few years ago I moved to a London hospital to gain a different type of experience, but I returned within the year as I missed the area, the mountains and my life here. This really is my second home now. My two children are also both qualified nurses, it’s such a rewarding career to go into with great opportunities.”
Arniel has also supported the NHS Wales’ recruitment campaign for the last three years, and is currently an accredited Royal College of Nursing (RCN) steward. Last year Arniel supported the opening of Ysbyty Gwynedd’s new Surgical Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) Unit which ensures patients receive the care they need in the right place at the right time.
Rosella Castaneda was 25-years-old when she started at Wrexham Maelor Hospital and is now a Critical Care Nurse at the hospital.
Rosella said: “I arrived in Heathrow and travelled to Wrexham by bus, and I stayed in accommodation in the town centre with some other overseas nurses. We came here to look for greener pastures in North Wales, and initially for me it was a stepping stone, but I become so content here I’ve never left. I like the countryside compared to the cities and now I’ve brought up my own family here.
“I really enjoy working in the Critical Care Unit, the team has become my second family here. Working during the pandemic has its many challenges, especially in our unit, but we are a close team and we’re here for each other.
“We’re professionals and always trying to look after one another. It’s tough at times, especially for our COVID-19 patients as most of them are very sick when they are admitted to our unit.”
Gill Harris, Executive Director Nursing & Midwifery and Deputy Chief Executive of BCUHB, said: “We are hugely grateful to our Filipino nurses for the excellent care and support they have provided to our patients over the last two decades.
“I’d like to thank all our staff from the Philippines, to those who came 20 years ago and those who have joined us since, for their dedication to the NHS, especially over the last year as they have played a key role throughout the pandemic. We are honoured that they chose North Wales to make their home.”