Overseas NHS Workers Day – Leah’s story

01 Mar 2024
NHS South East London

Overseas NHS Workers Day is celebrated annually on the first Friday of March, to highlight the invaluable contribution of colleagues who have migrated to the UK to work for the NHS.

“Being a Nurse in the NHS  is rewarding in itself. It has been a pleasure to work with amazing staff and look after wonderful patients. Such good people to work with and for.”

Leah Villa, Staff Nurse at Home Dialysis Therapy at Guy’s Hospital, describes her experience in the NHS as a fulfilling and overwhelmingly positive journey.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with amazing staff and teams, and this goes for everyone I’ve worked with across 3 NHS trusts in different roles, from Healthcare Assistant to Nurse. I honour everyone I’ve worked with; I’ve seen their commitment and devotion to their work and especially to our patients – I continue to see that every day.”

Upon arrival in the UK in 2014, Leah felt simultaneously anxious about adjusting to a new culture and excited about the opportunities that working in the NHS presented. Fortunately, she found it easier to adapt to UK than she had expected, finding purpose in exploring new ways of living and working.

Nonetheless, migrating to a new country is a significant life change and comes with its challenges. Initially, Leah struggled with homesickness and cultural assimilation, as well as a barrier to career advancement – obtaining an English language qualification whilst working.

“It was not difficult for me to prove that I belong in the NHS because I managed to get hired and work as a Healthcare Assistant for a few years… but I was not able to practice as a Nurse although I am a qualified Nurse and was previously working as a Registered Nurse in the Philippines.”

Despite the fact that Leah had a working proficiency in English, her career was temporarily hindered by her lack of a formal language qualification. With help from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, she was able to prepare and pass the necessary exam, enabling her to pursue her goal of working as a Registered Nurse in the UK.

“The most positive aspects of being an Overseas NHS Worker are the support and opportunities that we get to better ourselves and progress in our jobs. This may be in the form of trainings, courses, or in my case, I was encouraged and supported to get my nursing registration with Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Trust, helping me with my English proficiency exam.”

Having left everything she knew to work and build a new life for herself and her family in London, Leah’s story conveys remarkable resilience and vocation to make a positive contribution to society through her work. From south east London ICS, we want to thank Overseas Workers across the UK for their commitment and dedication to the NHS.

“I am very much in admiration of the existence of the NHS which is free for all, and the care delivered is certainly world class.”