This week saw the release of disappointing figures illustrating just how
difficult it has been for the Irish Government to fill nursing and midwife
positions in Irish hospitals. According to The Irish Nurse and Midwives
Organisation (INMO) there are now around 1,300 vacancies for nurses and
midwives in Irish public hospitals alone. This may not come as a surprise in
some quarters but it has resulted in the Irish government offering full time
employment to all graduating nurses from this autumn.
International opportunities a threat
While this offer might seem to be the ideal solution to the demands currently
placed on the Irish public healthcare sector, in fact it may not be enough to
solve the recruitment problems Irish hospitals currently face. Last April for
example, saw health employers from the UK, Singapore and Australia compete
to attract Irish nurses at a health care expo in Dublin’s RDS. This demonstrates
the current level of competition in the sector and is perhaps most ably
illustrated by the Irish government’s attempts to attract nurses back to
the HSE from abroad last year. A target of 500 job posts was created but
according to The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation only 90 vacancies were
initially filled. That figure has now been reduced again to 45 as half of the nurses
originally employed have since left Irish posts and returned to positions abroad.
Attractive packages will entice more applicants
Outside of the public healthcare system nursing graduates will also have
the enticement of attractive packages from the private sector. In many
circumstances the appeal will include location, flexible working hours as well
subsidised accommodation. If we also consider more attractive tax conditions
and lifestyle factors such as climate to a prospective employer’s package then
the competition for nursing graduates will become even more difficult for the
public sector to compete with. It is estimated that roughly 800 Irish nurses will
retire this year alone which will create even more opportunities not only for new
graduates but for experienced nurses and midwives to move into positions
currently held by long-term and specialised staff.
There will certainly be huge competition for nurses and midwives into the future.