Irish nurses to be wooed back home with €1,500 relocation offer
A major recruitment drive is under way to woo home 500 Irish nurses working in the UK with free flights and relocation expenses worth €1,500.
The HSE is also offering to pay the nurses' registration fee of €100, fund postgraduate education and give incremental salary credit for work experience outside of Ireland.
They will also get a travel pass scheme, which attracts "significant tax relief".
The move is a desperate bid to recruit badly needed general nurses, psychiatric nurses and midwives to work in hospitals across the country.
The campaign to fill the permanent and pensionable jobs is also targeted at nurses from other countries who are working in the UK.
The starting salary for the 39-hour week is €27,211 and compares with the around €31,037 in the UK, although their hospitals can vary wage levels.
Two companies have been hired and nurses are being invited to attend recruitment meetings where they will be encouraged to return home.
Benefits which are being used to make the offer attractive include a permanent job and opportunities for continuing professional development. There are sponsorship programmes for specialist post-registration education and masters study, generous annual and public leave entitlements and "competitive pay scales".
Although the starting pay may be lower here, the system of increments means that Irish nurses reach the maximum of €43,000 more quickly than if they were in the UK.
The recruiters are also dangling an "excellent public service pension" and schemes such as substantial entitlement to maternity and parental leave, plus a shorter working year.
Ian Tegerdine, the HSE's interim national director of human resources, who worked in the NHS in the UK, said: "The campaign will focus on connecting with nurses and midwives in the UK and further afield via advertising on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
"There is a dedicated microsite (www.nursinginIreland.ie) in place during the coming months. This activity will be complemented by print advertisements in Irish newspapers to raise awareness of the recruitment drive among those who may have family and friends abroad who might be interested in these positions."
Mr Tegerdine said the HSE had vacancies in a wide range of hospital and community facilities and was seeking to attract up to 500 nurses and midwives from the UK and elsewhere.
He added: "It is hoped that many Irish nurses and midwives working in the UK in particular will take up the opportunity to return home and work in the Irish publicly funded health services.
"The relocation package, which is tax-free, is available for nurses and midwives who wish to come and work in Ireland.
"The relocation package will be offered to nurses and midwives who apply for posts via the campaign."
Thousands of nurses emigrated to the UK, Australia and the United States in recent years as the embargo on recruitment saw their job prospects at home dwindle.
A yellowpack scheme, offering a two-year contract at lower salary, only managed to recruit a few hundred nurses and it has since been shelved.