Eilish O'Regan: After the exodus comes the charm campaign
Published 23/07/2015 | 02:30
Who would have thought that Irish hospitals and community services offering permanent and pensionable jobs would have effectively run out of nurses to recruit domestically?
It is not so long ago that all they could provide were yellowpack jobs with a low salary and a two-year contract.
Not surprisingly, it led to a huge exodus of Irish-educated nurses to hospitals in the UK, Australia and the United States, complete with free flights and relocation packages.
However, the tide has dramatically turned.
According to the HSE it has recruited around 700 nurses already this year, many of them already on contracts or working for agencies.
However, the supply has dried up and two recruitment agencies are now being hired to charm Irish nurses to take up around 500 jobs here.
They are needed across the board - particularly in the areas of mental health, intellectual disability, general nursing and maternity care.
The NHS is already bemoaning its own shortage of nurses so they will battle to hold on to their much-prized Irish staff.
For the nurses who are being wooed home, it will be a mix of the head and heart which will influence their decision to return or stay where they are.
The relocation package of a tax-free €1,500 is seen as an effort to get around some of the expensive rent deposits they face if they come back.
Salaries can be difficult to compare, but the public service rates here remain attractive.
Incremental credit for experience gained outside of the country will be included.
The increments here mean that nurses go up the salary scale faster than in the UK; increases there can be based on performance pay, but are automatic in Ireland.
The downside is the bad image of Irish hospitals, with ongoing stories of A&E overcrowding and high-profile scandals. The NHS has similar battles, although the pressures vary from hospital to hospital.
The HSE's trump card may be the Irish mammy and her ability to urge children to take a safe, secure job at home.