A British hospital is thinking of sending doctors' notes to the Far East to be typed.

Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge said it was struggling to recruit medical secretaries locally and was considering "outsourcing" typing to countries such as the Philippines. A spokeswoman said: "Our preference is to recruit medical secretaries locally, however, because of unfilled vacancies we are exploring a number of options. If we were to go ahead with outsourcing typing, it would not result in redundancies."

The public-service union Unison criticised Addenbrooke's for not consulting its officials. Unison said: "It would seem to be a stupid idea ... We were not aware that there were shortages of people willing to be medical secretaries in Cambridge."

It is understood that the plan would involve audio notes being e-mailed abroad, where they would be typed and then returned.