UK hospitals wooing Irish nurses with €10,000 offer
Hospitals in the UK are embarking on an intensive recruitment drive for Irish nurses with incentive packages of up to €10,000 - more than six times the HSE's offer of €1,500.
NHS hospitals, which need another 23,400 nurses, will be among 55 international health employers competing to recruit nurses and other staff at the Health Sector Expo in Dublin's RDS next Saturday.
It comes as hundreds of nursing jobs in Ireland are vacant, with knock-on effects for waiting lists and emergency overcrowding.
A spokeswoman for the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust confirmed they will be trying to woo 30 Irish nurses to their hospitals with a package worth up to €10,000 (£8,000).
This is intended to cover items such as travel, legal fees, estate agent fees and other expenses linked to moving and house sales.
The nurses will also get two days' paid leave to move.
The HSE's incentive package, launched last July to woo 500 nurses back from the UK, amounted to €1,500 upfront.
However, new figures obtained by Fianna Fáil Dublin West TD Jack Chambers, reveal just 83 nurses have accepted the offer.
Deputy Chambers said: "The figure is very disappointing. Clearly, we need fresh ideas on how to attract nurses here.
"They are essential if we are to improve services in hospitals which are under so much pressure. Patients will lose out unless we all work more constructively to deliver better care."
Stephen McLarnon of Health Sector Jobs, a leading provider of healthcare recruitment solutions in Ireland and the UK, which will host the fair, said: "Officially, there is a one-in-one-out recruitment policy, but HSE employers around the country are reporting a three-out-one-in recruitment policy, which is particularly bad news if Irish employers are trying to recruit and retain nurses and doctors.
"In the first instance, there could be an exodus of Irish freshly qualified student nurses heading overseas in a couple of months' time.
"This is despite Taoiseach Enda Kenny's commitment that there would be jobs for all student nurses in Ireland if they wanted them."
He added: "This month sees between 55 and 60 Irish, UK, Australian and Singaporean employers looking to recruit directly at the fair - that is more than double those recruiting last October.
"Overseas hospitals are very happy to snap up Irish-based nurses and doctors, and will compete with our system to attract talent, especially since the HSE has reintroduced the recruitment restriction for frontline healthcare professionals."
Among the top UK executives will be Brid Johnson, a native of Nenagh in Tipperary who is now with the North East London NHS Foundation Trust.
Ms Johnson had to leave Ireland 20 years ago for a career in nursing.
"I had to leave Ireland as there was a strict number of places in nursing college in Ireland. I received my nursing training in Essex, England, and worked my way up through the ranks.
"All healthcare providers are now trying to recruit from the same pool, be it local, national or international," she added.
How the Irish and UK nurse packages compare
HSE offer to woo home Irish nurses in UK:
• Salary from €27,483-€43,800 depending on length of experience;
• Relocation allowance of €1,500;
• Nursing registration fee of €100;
• Funded post graduate education;
• Incremental credit for experience gained outside Ireland;
* Permanent contract of employment;
• Opportunities for continuing professional development;
• Thirty-nine hour week and generous annual and public holiday leave; and
• Excellent public-service pension.
Offer from NHS hospitals to attract Irish nurses to UK:
• Relocation package of between €6,300 (for renters) to €10,000 (houseowners);
• Two days paid leave is allowed to move;
• Salary: €27,582-€35,832 (Band 5) €33,113-€44,347 (Band 6);
• 37.5 hour week;
• 27 days holiday, plus eight general and public holidays; and
• Annual personal development reviews.
(Nurses will also take into account rental, mortgage costs and taxation)