THE borough’s troubled NHS trust has been forced to recruit nurses from overseas to make up numbers.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust has hired 43 nurses from Portugal and Ireland to staff A&E and medical assessment wards at King George Hospital, Ilford, and Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

The trust and other health bosses have decided to close the A&E and maternity wards at King George - a move that is now being challenged.

A spokeswoman said: “Despite holding several recruitment open days over the past nine months, with a degree of success, there were simply not enough suitably trained nurses available locally.

“The trust was aware that there were opportunities to recruit nurses of a very high calibre in Ireland and Portugal, so worked with recruitment companies to fill the available posts.

“This is not at all unusual, with many NHS trusts travelling abroad to recruit nurses.”

As well as the uncertainty over the future of A&E at King George, the trust has also been dogged by problems with maternity services at Queen’s.

The maternity ward, which has been put forward as an alternative to the threatened services at King George’s, was slammed by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission for being understaffed and failing to follow its own care guidelines.

The commission also found problems with equipment used to monitor women’s contractions on the ward and said some staff did not feel they had the training to do their jobs.

Geoff Horsnell, 60, who is gathering objections to the closures at King George, said he was sure the uncertainty over the future of the A&E ward had put nurses off applying for jobs there.

“I wouldn’t be applying for a job where the future is uncertain,” he added. “I’m sure any of us could apply that to our own particular careers.”

He added that it was likely the negative report on the maternity ward at Queen’s would have had a knock-on effect for recruitment elsewhere in the hospital.

“Certainly, it would not have created any good press for them,” he added.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel is reviewing the decision to close the A&E and maternity wards at King George and anyone wishing to contribute should call 020 7389 8046 or email