HSE scheme recruits just 77 Irish nurses from abroad

Nursing in Ireland campaign had aimed to attract 500 nurses back within three months

Figures released by the HSE to The Irish Times last week show only 77 nurses have so far accepted job offers  under the Nursing in Ireland scheme. File photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

Figures released by the HSE to The Irish Times last week show only 77 nurses have so far accepted job offers under the Nursing in Ireland scheme. File photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

 

A Health Service Executive recruitment scheme to encourage Irish nurses working abroad to return to take up positions in the Irish health service has been extended after it managed to employ just 77 people.

The Nursing in Ireland initiative, announced on July 23rd, aimed to recruit 500 Irish nurses and midwives working in the UK and further afield within three months.

Figures released by the HSE to The Irish Times last week show only 77 have accepted job offers under the scheme so far.

In a statement, the HSE said the scheme was still open to applications, and recruitment efforts are continuing.

Four hundred applications have been received, and further interviews are scheduled for the coming weeks.

A wide range of positions are available in hospitals and community facilities across the country, but the HSE is particularly seeking to recruit specialist ICU and theatre nurses.

Under the scheme, nurses and midwives have been offered a tax-free relocation package of up to €1,500 to cover expenses such as flights, the cost of registering for the first time with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, funded postgraduate education, and incremental credit for experience gained outside Ireland.

Warning

After the initiative was announced, the Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation warned what was being offered in the package might not be enough to encourage Irish nurses abroad to return.

General secretary Liam Doran said the salaries on offer – at €27,211-€43,800 in basic pay – do not compete with other countries, while nurses could also be deterred by overcrowding, poor staffing levels and longer working hours in Irish hospitals.

The union estimates that more than 4,000 nurses will need to be hired to return the Irish nursing workforce to pre-crash levels of 39,000.

The HSE’s recruitment efforts so far have been focused on the UK, with an advertising campaign in newspapers and on social media.

A delegation of representatives from 20 Irish hospitals, including Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, the Blackrock Clinic and the UL Hospital Group will travel to London for the Health Sector Jobs Expo this Saturday in an effort to boost recruitment.

Beyond UK

The HSE said it now plans to extend the campaign to other countries.

The UK has been the biggest receiver of Irish nurses and midwives since the public sector recruitment embargo was introduced in 2009.

A total of 743 nurses applied to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland for a certificate to allow them to work in the UK in 2014 alone, bringing the total for the past four years to almost 4,000.