HEREFORDSHIRE Council's search for social workers now stretches to Spain and Romania.

The council confirmed that it - like Wye Valley NHS Trust - it was actively recruiting in the EU.

As reported by the Hereford Times, the council has long running issues over the recruitment and retention of social workers, particularly in children's services.

Last year, the focus of recruitment was on bringing experienced social workers back, addressing a need for permanent staff to boost teams heavily dependent on interims.

With the "inadequate" grading from OFSTED gone, the service is focussed on improvement and has been recognised nationally as such.

But competition for social workers is tough, with the council up against authorities across the West Midlands in seeking permanent appointments.

So the search has headed to the EU, primarily Spain and Romania, where social workers have very similar training and their qualification is accepted by the UK's Health and Care Professions Council.

The move also reflects the county's increasing diversity.

Cllr Jeremy Millar, cabinet member, young people and children's wellbeing said the council was still keeping current social service staffing levels with "costly" agency workers, but permanent appointments were now the priority.

Permanent staff also offered a "continuity of service" to children and families sometimes be lost with temporary arrangements, he said.