What jobs are available for Irish healthcare workers returning from abroad?
The HSE is hiring again in Ireland, but mostly for short-term positions
According to the INMO, the HSE is keen to recruit nurses, but individual hospitals do not have the budget to pay for more staff or have to restrict staffing levels, meaning most contracts on offer are short-term.
This article forms part of an Irish Times Abroad series focusing on healthcare workers. Where are the job opportunities for those interested in moving overseas? How do salaries and working conditions compare? Irish healthcare professionals already working overseas, from dentists in the UK to psychiatric nurses in Tasmania, have been sharing their experiences with readers. See irishtimes.com/abroad for more.
It’s been a tough few years for Irish healthcare workers given pay cuts, pension levies and recruitment embargoes, which has resulted in high emigration levels in the health sector. However, as the economy has recovered so too have opportunities in the Irish healthcare sector for those looking to move home from abroad.
Earlier this year it was announced that nurses who had graduated between 2011 and 2015 will have their incremental credit for their 36-week student placement restoredwith effect from January 1st, 2017. This decision will benefit about 4,000 nurses to the tune of more than €1,000.
And recruitment is happening again, since the embargo ended last year. General secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Liam Doran says the shortage of nurses and midwives in Ireland has been completely underestimated.
“Most hospitals in this country are short of nurses. They can’t recruit or retain them,” he says. There are now 35,300 working in nursing in Ireland. That is down from a peak of 39,000, however, but up from a recent low of 33,800, he adds.
This means the HSE is actively looking to attract nurses and midwives home from the UK and elsewhere with a salary scale of €27,483 to €43,800 for a 39-hour week, offering a relocation package as an incentive. This package will give a new employee in the health service a grant of up to €1,500 towards the cost of vouched expenses such as the cost of flights.
However, figures show that the HSE has not been inundated with nurses looking to return home. About 420 applications have been received since the scheme was launched in 2015, and by the end of October 2016, more than a year later, the total recruited was 88, according to the HSE. Moreover, some say that about 30 of the nurses who came home to avail of the scheme have since returned to where they used to live overseas.
“The problem is we have had six months of mixed messages,” says Doran. So the HSE is keen to recruit nurses, but individual hospitals that do not have the budget to pay for more staff or have to restrict staffing levels are simply offering three- or six-month contracts, he says, which is not enough to attract staff home.
“That is the case particularly outside Dublin and Cork, along the western seaboard, for example. It’s a very challenging environment.”
There are posts available in the public system, he adds, but they are generally in Dublin or Cork.
The HSE is keen to stress that it is a “rolling campaign” with no closing date, so nurses can apply for the scheme at any time.
Stephen McLarnon, chief exective of Health Sector Jobs (healthsectorjobs.com), a recruitment marketing company, says there was a lot of interest after the HSE initiative was introduced but that has fallen back. “The HSE initiative was unique, but in less than six months the message has gone out to the market that there are no jobs.
“There is a global shortage of 2.4 million nurses and doctors so the Government needs to make Ireland more attractive with lower patient to staff ratios, better conditions and higher pay.”
There is little interest from doctors in returning home, however, he says. This is largely down to the lack of opportunities, and difficult working conditions rather than simply the salaries.
“Doctors look for innovation in treatment. They want to work in ground-breaking facilites. There are limited career paths in Ireland at the moment and the recruitment process is very slow. ”
An intern can now expect to be offered a basic salary of under €32,000, down from €35,000. A registrar now starts at €50,000 and a senior registrar on €65,000. (For a full list of government salary scales in the medical arena see health.gov.ie).
There are opportunities to be had in the private sector, according to Cora Barnes, the co-owner of Nurse Jobs Ireland (nursejobsireland.com). “The public-private sector is 100 per cent open for business and is proactively looking for people. We have at least 100 nursing vacancies at the moment with 35 different employrs in Ireland,” she says. There are also vacancies for specialists such as radiographers and pharmacists.
Some of these institutions are offering incentive packages to returners too. The Beacon Hospital in Sandyford, south Co Dublin, for example, has introduced a term-time work policy, in order to recruit and retain staff. This means employees can take off up to 13 weeks per year to spend time with their families during mid-term breaks, summer, Christmas and Easter holidays.
The Bon Secours offers a relocation package of up to €3,000. The Mater Private does even better. It is offering a bonus of up to €6,000 as part of its relocation package, with 50 per cent of the bonus paid in month one, and the remainder after six months. It also offers an accommodation allowance for the first month, and a return flight to the value of €250.
Barnes advises those who want to come home to do plenty of research online. There you can read about expansion plans or recruitment drives. It can be worthwhile applying directly to the hospital you would like to work for rather than sending out lots of CVs, she says.
When the Mater Private Cork was organising an open day for nursing staff, it put the details on its website.
“Check out the websites of the institution you are interested in,” she says. “See if they have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed as you can get updates there. First interviews are often done over Skype now, so you don’t have to wait until you are home.”
For more see Nursing in Ireland nursinginireland.ie.