HSE says 130 nurses recruited overseas is 'a success'
Overseas recruitment drives by the HSE over the past two years have managed to attract just 130 nurses to work here, the Irish Independent has learned.
However, the HSE has insisted that this should be considered a "good success", given how "extremely competitive" the European market is for nursing staff with specialist skills.
The most high-profile recruitment campaign was in the UK last summer, when the HSE sought to attract around 500 nurses home with a relocation package of €1,500.
Responding to questions, the HSE said it expected that further nurse-recruitment drives would take place in non-EU countries in order to secure more nurses to work in Ireland.
Nurses here can earn salaries of between €27,211 and €43,800 for a 39-hour week, with additional pay for shift and other differentials.
The relatively low number of nurses wooed to work here comes against a background of promises in all the parties' pre-election manifestos to hire thousands more nurses and doctors over the next five years.
But the extent of the uphill struggle in filling vacancies is also highlighted in revelations that the HSE has embarked on a series of recruitment campaigns in the past two years.
A HSE spokesman was not able to say how many doctors had been recruited internationally for Irish hospitals.
They are recruited through the Public Appointments Service and there is no distinction drawn between the recruitment of consultants in Ireland or internationally, as they are the same pool of candidates, he insisted.
The spokesman explained: "For specialist doctors, there is a recognised international shortage in areas such as psychiatry."
Asked how much the HSE spent on the recruitment drives, the spokesman said it was not possible to divulge the sum.
"The international nurses are being recruited through agencies following a procurement process. There is a per-nurse cost, which was established through this procurement process and which is commercially sensitive."
Overall, the HSE recruited 100 consultants last year, both from within Ireland and abroad.
Ongoing vacancies for nurses and some consultants have been blamed for contributing to the hospital trolley crisis, as well as waiting lists for public patients.
It recently emerged that Beaumont Hospital in Dublin had vacancies for 116 nurses, 20 doctors and 16 consultants, as well as another 32 clinical staff, 26 administrators, 12 support staff and 10 others.
The hospital has recruited 30 nursing students.