These case studies will support your understanding of recruiting overseas – including providing recommendations and experiences of those who have previously come to work in the UK – and signpost you to current NHS resources.

This information is to support employers and recruiters of speech and language therapists from overseas, as well as internationally educated s who are looking to come to the UK.

Recruiting from a country without a mutual recognition agreement (MRA)

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust has been supportive when it comes to international recruitment. In November 2022 they visited Kerala, India, as part of a multi-disciplinary team from across the whole region to recruit, among a range of other professions, three speech and language therapists (SLTs) for the trust. They describe their experience below.

We met with around six SLTs and the calibre of therapists was excellent. For our trust, we were prioritising those with experience working in mental health. Other applicants were offered positions by other organisations. While interviewing the SLT candidates, it was apparent that they were all highly qualified and the majority had a clinical masters, evidencing ample applicable and transferable experience.

Whilst speaking to the interviewees, we developed some learning that will be helpful for any future international recruitments. Interviewees were not used to preparing for an interview. Other feedback received from the interviewees included the high fees to take the IELTS exam; a concern for many applicants in India, considering the exchange rate (£360 equals to approximately 36,000 Indian Rupees). One reason interviewees were looking forward to working in the UK was the salary they would receive. It is important that applicants have a clear understanding of the of living costs and taxes in the UK, in relation to income, to develop clear ideas of how much disposable money they would have, and undertake financial planning before arrival in the UK.

After our experience, the following are some recommendations to consider for those recruiting overseas:

  • Assist with interview preparation
  • Be clear about around salary and UK cost of living
  • Pastoral care – providing support throughout recruitment and when candidates arrive
  • Consider financial support for the IELTS exam
  • What additional training will be required to work autonomously in the UK, dependent on the banding of posts recruited to

Resources for a recruiters and employers

A perspective from a member recruited from France

We interviewed a member from France who currently works as a paediatric speech and language therapist, to get their view on working in the UK and the process they went through.

Please describe your background and what made you want to move to the UK to work?

I graduated from the University of Lyon in France and moved to the UK at the end of 2020. I moved to the UK with my family for reasons unrelated to work. However, I was interested in working here as an SLT.

Please could you describe the process that you went through to come over?

HCPC application for registration

I had to gather detailed evidence of my training (lectures, tutorials, placements, including how each module had been taught and assessed, with detailed descriptions of each module). This resulted in a five page document that had to be written in English. I was lucky enough that the admin staff at the speech and language therapy department at Lyon University were very helpful and spent a lot of time putting the information together for me. We were not so lucky with my partner (who was a physio) and this resulted in him changing careers when in the UK! (He’s happy with the change, though).

I also had to pay for a lot of certified translations and to take an IELTS exam to prove I had the required level of English (it is higher for SLT than for other health and care professions). So this was quite costly.

I also had to fill in an application form, with details of my education, professional experience, professional registration, etc.

I needed to provide contact details of a former employer that the HCPC would contact (this meant I had to find someone who could communicate in English and would agree to it – as this is not usually done in France and people might be wary of giving details about someone else. I was lucky enough that one of my former employers was willing to do this. I was also lucky in that I had experience working as an employee, as most SLTs in France are self-employed.

I remember having to find someone to certify copies of some documents. Not sure why anymore! Once again, I was lucky and had friends in the UK who could help me with this.

I also had to pay a fee for this application, and chase a few people in the process.

RCSLT registration

This was very straightforward once I had registered with the HCPC.

Finding a job

To do this I had to understand how the health system and the speech and language therapy profession are organised in England. Both to give details about my work experience as part of my HCPC application and to apply for jobs once I’d registered. It took me quite some time to understand enough to be able to describe my experience in terms that would make sense here and to be able to apply for jobs successfully.

What did you find most helpful during the process?

During the entire process I found most people I contacted very helpful and ready to help (at the RCSLT, HCPC, or in France). The whole process took a lot of time, however, and I was very lucky in that I had time to do it.

What was most useful overall was talking to two local SLTs who could answer my questions and give me a sense of how the job was done here. One even had experience working in France, so she could appreciate the differences and helped me to take a few shortcuts in my understanding of the healthcare system and how SLTs work here.

What did you find most challenging during the process? Was there anything missing? What could be changed to make it better?

Apart from gathering the course information, which I’ve mentioned above in detail, the most difficult part for me was to make sense of the general healthcare system the speech and language therapy profession is part of. And how an SLT works in the UK. The bigger picture, if you will. I needed this to understand job offers and to apply for them successfully.

I needed it to understand the kind of settings that were offering jobs, the kind of missions and tasks that were expected, etc.

So to me, what would be helpful and was missing in my experience, is a good picture of the healthcare system, and maybe descriptions of the job – for example, a day as a… dysphagia SLT/SEN school SLT.

Clearly, the whole process was rather lengthy and costly, and apart from country-specific or university-specific agreements, I don’t really see how this could be changed.

When you started your role in the UK, what did you find most helpful?

Shadowing colleagues before I started working was very, very helpful. I learnt a lot from these moments shadowing other SLTs.

The team I work with is very friendly and very helpful. I still have a lot of questions, and there’s always someone available to answer them.

I also found the RCSLT website very useful while applying for the HCPC registration as it helped me with terminology and clinical information.

What do international recruits specifically need to help them with the process of coming over?

A peer-network to exchange relevant and up-to-date information would be interesting.

Ideally, partnering with an SLT working in the UK could be very helpful, but possibly demanding on the partner SLT. I was very lucky because I had ways of contacting local SLTs here. They were nice enough to take the time to talk to me and answer my questions, etc. It was also helpful that I had friends in the UK who could help me with some of the specific paperwork, etc. Someone without these connections could probably still apply but might find the whole process even more difficult.

A perspective from a member recruited from Slovakia

We interviewed a member from Slovakia who currently works as a paediatric SLT in the NHS, to get their view on working in the UK and the process they went through.

Please describe your background and what made you want to move to the UK to work?

I studied at the Department of Communication Disorders, Comenius University in Slovakia and moved to the UK in August 2020. I wanted to extend my clinical expertise and experience of assessment methods, as well as therapy approaches used in the UK. I wanted to gain experience working with culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse populations. After gaining more clinical experience, I would like to take part in conducting research and shaping the evidence-base in the international SLT community.

Please could you describe the process that you went through to come over.

I was offered a funded Erasmus+ traineeship from the European Union through my university’s Department of Communication Disorders, which supported me to travel to the UK and gain experience as a speech and language therapy assistant for a few months.

After the traineeship, I decided to challenge myself and started working on acute and hyper acute stroke wards (ASU and HASU) as a speech and language therapy assistant. At this time, I was encouraged and supported by my team to start the HCPC rgistration process and I started preparing my documentation.

After gaining valuable experience with adults, I transferred back into paediatrics, also as a speech and language therapy assistant. During this role, I was able to finalise the HCPC application process. After my application was processed, I got registered with HCPC and RCSLT and applied for my first band 5 position, in which I am currently, working on my overseas qualified professional competencies.

What did you find most helpful during the process?

What helped me the most was the encouragement of my team when I worked on ASU and HASU, to pursue the registration with HCPC. My clinical manager and supervisor have given me valuable protected time in my job role to sit down and read through all the requirements and to start gathering all the evidence needed to apply. They frequently checked on me and cheered on my progress. This supported me to persist. I also found it valuable to network with other SLTs who have undergone the same registration process in my paediatric speech and language therapy assistant role. Being a part of a team that believed in me felt empowering and I think it was one of the biggest factors that helped me to work hard towards the registration.

What did you find most challenging during the process? Was there anything missing? What could be changed to make it better?

The most challenging part during the process of finding a job as an SLT in the UK was mainly understanding the job market, where to look for a position, what to be careful about when applying to private companies instead of to NHS trusts, understanding what a good job contract in the UK should look like, what are fair contract terms and what aren’t, preparing for the interview process, understanding what the expectations are of a newly graduated SLTs in the UK.

When it comes to what I think was missing in the whole process of getting a job in the UK as an overseas SLT, I would say more encouragement from recruiters for overseas applicants to apply as well as financial support to relocate.

I would suggest to employers interested in recruiting overseas SLTs to consider extending the induction period for overseas SLTs for a few days, to make time to include an introduction to working in the UK, including UK workplace culture, and then primarily focusing on explaining setting specific clinical information, such as details about available formal and informal assessments and therapy approaches in the UK. I also think that support with finding suitable, safe and well-located housing, especially when moving countries, is required, not only to safeguard overseas employees but also to prevent their burnout. Employers have to take ownership of supporting their new overseas employees and take a whole-person approach to recruitment.

When you started your role in the UK, what did you find most helpful?

Being part of a supportive, friendly and laid-back team dynamic helped me the most. The open environment to ask questions and get honest answers. Additionally, what made me feel accepted was also the sense of cultural inclusivity in my team.

What do international recruits specifically need to help them with the process of coming over?

I think we mainly need patience. We are oftentimes not only in a new job role, but also in a new city, new country, we do not know anyone at the start and we are oftentimes doing our jobs in a different language than our mother tongue and are likely to need more time to map everything out. We need detailed support with finding suitable housing and other documentation that is tied to relocating to the UK. We also need support with transitioning into the UK culture.

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