Three-quarters of qualifying nurses forced to emigrate

 

Recruitment embargo and agency cutbacks make it very difficult for new graduates, writes RONAN McGREEVY

AS MANY as 75 per cent of the 1,500 nurses who will get their registration this month will be forced to emigrate to find permanent employment, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has claimed.

A complete recruitment pause in place since July 20th, including a curtailment of agency staff, will make it “very very difficult” for newly graduated nurses to find any employment in the health service, INMO general secretary Liam Doran has claimed.

There has been a moratorium on filling permanent positions in the health service since the first quarter of 2008. There are now 34,300 nurses working in the health service in comparison with 39,000 nursing posts at the end of 2007.

In the 12 months up to May this year, more than 2,000 nurses applied to An Bord Altranais (the nursing board) for a certificate of verification which would allow them to work abroad.

Mr Doran said there was currently a “triple whammy”: newly graduated nurses have to emigrate, those with four or five years’ experience are moving away because they can’t get a mortgage and Filipino nurses, who were recruited en masse during the Celtic Tiger years, are going to countries where they can have a better standard of living.

Meanwhile, next weekend the oil- and gas-rich Canadian province of Alberta is seeking to recruit hundreds of Irish nurses and other health professionals at the Working Abroad Expo in the RDS.

Alberta Health Services currently has 1,500 vacancies including doctors, nurses, nurse clinicians, psychiatric nurses, physiotherapists, recreational therapists, addiction counsellors, audiologists, pharmacists, and speech and language therapists.

Unlike its neighbour to the south, Canada has not been seriously impacted by the global financial crisis and Alberta is in the midst of a sustained resources boom.

The province of 3.6 million people is expecting real GDP growth of 4 per cent this year followed by 3.9 per cent next year. The population is growing by 2.5 per cent per year, putting a strain on the health system.

Alberta Health Services’ senior talent acquisition adviser Leeann Montpetit said it was recruiting in Ireland because Irish health professionals have similar training to their Canadian counterparts.

“It is very easy to move somebody from Ireland because their skills are so transferable,” she said. “It makes sense for us to go to Ireland and try to attract qualified candidates in that way. We don’t just go anywhere.”

She said salaries were comparable with Ireland but the cost of living was cheaper. Calgary, a city about the size of Dublin, was voted the fifth best city in the world to live in by the Economist magazine’s intelligence unit.

The health department of Western Australia is also recruiting nurses and the Midlands Health Network in New Zealand is looking to recruit healthcare professionals, predominantly GPs.

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