NURSE Lili Baleanu left behind her three small children in Romania to travel to Swindon.

But the Great Western Hospital staff nurse says they speak frequently over Skype – and Lili’s eldest daughter even wants to be a doctor, following her mum into medicine.

Lili came to Swindon a year ago. Her plane landed on the Tarmac on a Saturday and she started her first induction that Monday. A week later, she was thrust into the bustle of Woodpecker ward, which cares for mainly elderly patients.

“I asked to be on a ward where I could learn a lot of things,” said Lili, who came to GWH straight from three years at nursing school.

The 30-year-old originally studied geography and tourism at university, before working as a bank manager’s assistant.

When she had her first child she became a stay-at-home mum.

Lili said: “I started nursing school when I was pregnant with my last child.

“It was difficult, but I had a lot of help from my husband, my parents and my husband’s parents.”

When she started at nursing school, Lili confesses she wasn’t “100 per cent decided” on what she wanted to do.

But the more experience of nursing she got, the more Lili enjoyed it.

She says the best part of her job is “taking care of people”.

“Every time a patient says, ‘thank you for all you’ve done for me’, it makes you feel special and it makes you feel you’re doing the right thing for them,” she said.

“I had a patient last week, who I’d looked after for three or four weeks. When she was discharged she turned to me and she started to cry, because she was very attached to me.

“She used to tell everyone how good I was, how lovely and how smiley. That was one of the most emotional things I’ve heard.”

Lili is one of 63 European Union nationals who started working at GWH NHS Foundation Trust last year. The figure was down slightly on 2015/16, a bumper year when one in 10 new starters at the trust came from EU countries other than the UK.

Health chiefs have blamed the recruitment slowdown, which has been replicated across England, on the effects of last year’s Brexit vote.

But nurse Lili’s message to fellow Romanians considering a nursing career in the UK is to make the move.

“I’d just encourage everyone to come,” she said. “Apart from being a nice experience, I really felt very supported here.”

Lili, who lives with two other Romanian nurses, said she had not yet felt the effects of Brexit: “I think it will be difficult in the future, but for us – who are already registered here – I’m not sure if we will be affected by Brexit.”

More important is the effect of being away from her two girls and son, aged three, five and seven.

Lili said: “It was hard at the beginning, but we used to talk a lot on Skype.

“They used to ask me a lot of questions – how is it? How are your patients? Can we see them? They were very curious at the beginning – but it was just the beginning.

“Now, when we’re talking they are just focussed on what we are talking about for 10 minutes and then they get distracted by their games.”

Despite the distractions, Lili’s eldest daughter has picked up something from her mum’s training: “She says she wants to be a doctor and wants me to be her nurse and to work for her.”

Lili will return to Romania at the end of November, staying a fortnight with her family before spending the busy Christmas period at GWH.

This will be the second Christmas the 30-year-old nurse has spent working shifts at GWH.

But, with a priest for a husband, Lili is used to seeing Christmas as time for work.

She said: “I don’t want to go home for Christmas because he’s working as well.”