Campaign to attract Irish nurses home has been ‘stood down’

HSE said the Bring Them Home campaign brought 120 nurses back since July 2015

Rosarii Mannion, HSE national director of human resources. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Rosarii Mannion, HSE national director of human resources. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

A campaign to attract hundreds of Irish nurses back home from overseas has been quietly “stood down” after a lack of interest, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has admitted.

The HSE said the Bring Them Home campaign brought back 120 nurses since July 2015, when it was launched with the promise of recruiting 500 nurses from Britain alone.

HSE records released under Freedom of Information last year said three nurses had returned under the scheme between January and July 2018. The figures also stated 15 nurses were recruited under the relocation package in 2017, down from 82 in 2016 and 20 in 2015.

All of the nurses who returned under the scheme came from the UK.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said in 2017 that the scheme was being extended beyond nurses working in the UK to those anywhere in the world.

During 2015 and 2016, the HSE’s national recruitment service paid “approximately €250,000” for the campaign, including on removal and relocation expenses, as well as the costs of flights. From June 2016, costs were paid directly by the hospitals.

Last week, the HSE said it had “now concluded” and that it was “stood down”, with hospital groups taking on the responsibility of directly recruiting nurses.

Asked when the scheme officially concluded, HSE national director of human resources, Rosarii Mannion said could not recall any formal decision having been taken to end it. “I don’t think there was anything ceremonial about standing it up or standing it down... it just moved on and evolved,” she added.

However, Ms Mannion later said financial incentives, worth up to €3,000, remain available to any nurse wishing to return to Ireland from abroad.

“But I am not running a Bring Them Home campaign,” she said. “What I am trying to do is keep the nurses (already) at home.”