A GROUP of more than 20 Spanish nurses arrived in the city this week and proclaimed: "We feel like the Spice Girls!"

The nurses have been drafted in as part of a pilot scheme to cover a nursing shortage in local hospitals and their arrival has attracted national media attention.

One senorita explained: "When we got off the plane there were lots of people with cameras taking pictures. We were not expecting it. We enjoyed it. We felt like the Spice Girls."

The nurses will be based at St Martins College while they undergo a 12 week cultural adaptation programme to learn more about British culture and the technical, medical language.

They will then take up posts in local hospitals, including Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

The nurses are fully qualified and possess good English skills and the pilot scheme has been set up to identify and explore opportunities for international recruitment, which may also extend to other healthcare staff including doctors.

Marta Torres said she was happy to be here, despite the grey clouds and rain.

She said: "I came here because I thought it was a great opportunity to get to know a different country, a different culture and to improve my English. I like Lancaster, but the weather is very cold, the food is strange, the eating times are completely different from those in Spain, but I hope to get used to it as soon as possible."

One of the few male nurses who have been recruited, Ivan de la Torre, said: "I am staying for 2 years but if I like it here and if people like me, then I'll perhaps stay longer. We will do a 12 week course to learn about the British health system, British lifestyle in general and the special medical vocabulary."