Ireland’s Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) says UK hospitals are aggressively poaching Irish nurses and it has become a serious issue for Irish hospitals. They are being enticed by better wages and working conditions, the INMO said.
Last year, 107 children’s nurses were recruited and started work in Ireland – and 106 of them left. It made its comments at the launch of its own Paediatric Trolley Watch which counts how many children are on trolleys in Ireland’s children’s hospitals because there’s no beds for them. It found that 73 children were on trolleys in emergency departments in the first two weeks of this year. It said the recruitment and retention of nurses should be cause for concern as nursing staffing levels have fallen by more than 3,000 since 2007.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha, the general secretary of the INMO, said: “We have a very serious situation as well with the UK aggressively recruiting our qualifying sick children nurses, particularly Great Ormond Street. They view the training our nurses receive very highly, and they come here to recruit. Unfortunately our conditions of employment are such that it seems far more attractive for our nurses to emigrate and that’s something we think should be curbed, nipped in the bud, and there’s only one way to do it – and that’s to make the conditions here better.
“The UK hospitals are very sophisticated in how they recruit, both in the children’s and in the adult. So they come, they have their package set out and they know exactly how many they’ll take. So they go to specific colleges, they meet the students when they are in their final year and they pitch and they offer them very attractive packages.”
Ms Ní Sheaghdha told the Irish website thejournal.ie: “Most nurses would like to consolidate their training in their training hospital even if that’s for a year or six months. What we’re finding is the package in the UK, and because it’s so close and travel-wise it’s easy, they’re outweighing the benefit that most people think they would get by staying in their training hospital and consolidating their training. So they’re leaving.
“We have to look at what are we paying nurses across all of the children’s and adults’ services because clearly we are losing the battle.
“There’s clearly a huge crisis now in recruitment and retention for nurses and midwives and the next step is, well, what do we do to correct that, and as far as we’re concerned everything has been tried except correction of the pay.”
Last year, 107 children’s nurses were recruited and started – and 106 left. Ireland’s Health Services Executive (HSE) has been working with the INMO to increase retention of new nurses and agreed a target of 1,224 but by last September the number had only reached 13. An earlier ‘bring them home’ campaign for nurses failed to bring in the numbers promised because they are paid less and work longer hours than their colleagues.