Jonah Atos from the Western Trust, who met King Charles, joined NI and GB colleagues at the reception in Buckingham Palace. (Images: Ian Jones)
Internationally-educated nurses living and working in Ireland have attended a reception hosted by His Majesty The King.
The event in Buckingham Palace was held to pay tribute to the UK’s international nursing and midwifery workforce, and to recognise the multitude of backgrounds and cultures which contribute to the health services across the four nations.
Nurses from Northern Ireland joined colleagues from across the UK at today’s reception, including Jonah Atos, from the Western Health & Social Care Trust (WHSCT), who personally met King Charles.
Jonah Atos outside Buckingham Palace
Ms Atos, originally from the Philippines, was the first internationally-educated nurse to join the WHSCT, in 2002. She said:
“It was such an honour to be invited to meet his Majesty the King and represent both the Western Health & Social Care Trust and my internationally-educated nursing colleagues at this prestigious event.
“This was a wonderful occasion to showcase the significant contribution of the internationally-educated workforce to the Health & Social Care system (HSC) across Northern Ireland.”
Ms Atos is currently working as the International Nurse Coordinator for the WHSCT, providing pastoral care, emotional, social and psychological support to her internationally-educated nursing colleagues.
Deputy Chief Nursing Officer Mary Frances McManus meeting King Charles.
Northern Ireland Deputy Chief Nursing Officer Mary Frances McManus, who also attended the reception with HSC colleagues, said:
“The internationally-educated nurses working across our HSC system provide an immensely valuable contribution to our communities and to the delivery of health and social care services.
“I am delighted that my nursing colleagues have been honoured and recognised for the compassion and kindness they show to the people they care for each and every day.”
Today also marks the King’s birthday, and the reception concluded with a surprise birthday song performed by the NHS choir.
Approximately 400 nurses and midwives attended the event from the multitude of backgrounds and cultures which contribute to the UK’s Health and Social Care Sector.
His Majesty met a selection of the 150,000 international nurses and midwives currently working in the United Kingdom, including those from India, Philippines, Poland and Kenya. His Majesty also met refugee nurses and representatives from International Nursing and Midwifery Associations.
As of the end of October 2023, 1,723 internationally-trained nurses had taken up posts within HSC Trusts in Northern Ireland through the BSO’s International Nurse Recruitment Project, of which 1,601 still remain in post. There were 520 new arrivals in 2022/23, and it is anticipated that there will be a further 210 new arrivals in 2023/24.