Graduate nurses earn twice as much abroad
IRISH graduate nurses, who are weighing up their 'home or away' options, could earn €21,000 more this year if they are prepared to emigrate.
The salary packages abroad are considerably more generous than the €21,769 basic salary the Health Service Executive (HSE) is offering under a new two-year contract deal.
Australian health officials recently travelled to Ireland to recruit 70 Irish nurses.
In recent years, many Irish graduates have opted for a shorter journey, though, taking up work in the UK, particularly in London.
There the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse is €25,579 and there is an extra inner London allowance available, which ranges from €4,874-€7,509.
Canada has also become a favourite and although salaries vary, particularly between rural and urban areas, it could average around €38,200.
The different health systems have a range of potential top ups for weekend work, although a nurse could find they are working a 40-hour week, compare to the 37.5 hours here.
HSE human resources director Barry O'Brien said the availability of 1,000 jobs for graduates in Irish hospitals, which are being advertised this week, is the first time in years newly qualified nurses have a choice between home or abroad.
However, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) are opposed to the initiative and are urging a boycott of the jobs as the salary is just 80pc of the salary a new recruit would normally get.
Mr O'Brien said: "I think, when you assess it in the current challenging environment, there is nothing like (the scheme). There are no other graduates who are trying to get a foothold in the workplace who have such a scheme. "It has earning potential of up to €26,000 a year. A lot of graduate programmes may be for only up to six months but this offers a guarantee of two years' employment."
He accepted that trying to live on the salary would be a challenge.
"If you compare what they are paying in London, it is a fairly difficult challenge to live on that there," he told the Irish Independent.
"This is an initiative we took to give people a chance of employment and avoid excessive overtime and agency costs."
A spokeswoman for An Bord Altranais, the regulatory body for nurses, said Australia has always been the top destination for Irish nurses seeking work abroad, but interest in the UK has increased.
Indian-trained nurses who are working here are also opting for Australia, while Filipino nurses prefer Canada.
A good indicator of where people are going is the number of verification requests the organisation receives.
Although not every verification request results in a nurse going abroad, the most recent figures for 2011 show An Bord Altranais was contacted in relation to 2,059 nurses compared to 1,356 in 2010.