Monday 20 November 2017

Pay and conditions driving nursing students to leave

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Stock photo
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

More than three quarters of nursing and midwifery students who are on work placement said they are considering emigrating when they are qualified.

A survey by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) shows:

78.10pc of students, the majority of whom are 23 years or under, are considering emigrating upon qualification;

78.78pc said they would consider staying in the Irish public health service for at least a year upon qualifying if offered guaranteed permanent contracts;

70.20pc said they have been approached by overseas recruitment agencies before April 2017;

Only 29.8pc had been offered permanent or part-time positions in the Irish public health service at that time;

Of 29.8pc only 16.25pc had been offered permanent contracts in Ireland at the time of the survey while 58.92pc were considering moving to the private sector in Ireland.

It found that 71.56pc had not been offered a permanent post by their current employer, despite the fact that the HSE stated, in 2016, that it would offer permanent positions to all new 2017 graduates upon qualifying.

Around one third said they would consider moving to a workplace closer to home due to cost.

The union said the evidence from the survey contradicts the current HSE assertion that it is proactively offering permanent positions to all new graduates and reveals that the HSE is later than overseas recruiters in approaching Irish students.

The survey findings also show that the top three ranking incentives to entice graduates to stay within the public health service are the increase in pay, improved staffing levels and working conditions and access to funded postgraduate education.

INMO President Martina Harkin-Kelly said: "The results of this survey have clearly put into perspective the on-going crisis in the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives in this country. It highlights the significant need to improve the current incentives being offered in the public health service and the need to offer full-time permanent posts to current interns much earlier in their 4th year.

"This trend must be halted given the current crisis in the public health service, Ireland's aging population and increasing demands on the public health system.

"It is clear from this survey that the public health service has again lost, or is losing, the battle to recruit and retain new graduates to overseas employers and, to a lesser extent, the private sector in Ireland.

She said that in order to realistically achieve the best outcomes, this survey illustrates that it will be necessary to improve nursing and midwifery pay (parity of pay and hours with comparable therapeutic grades employed in the Irish public health service has been sought by the union).

There must be an offer of real incentives to stay in Ireland and to return to work in the Irish public health service. These must, at the very least, match offers from the Irish private health services.

They are looking for contracts that guarantee post qualification employment to all training nursing and midwifery students. This will render recruitment from overseas less effective.

The nurses say they need career breaks within the contract to allow travel for a period. The HSE should also start recruiting students at the commencement of their internship year to compete with early recruitment efforts by overseas employers.

And it needs to improve and increase the availability of post-graduate education and specialisation courses of education in order to compete with UK and other markets.

The number of nurses fell from 39,006 in 2007 to 35,835 in 2016.

Irish Independent

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