Ireland’s health service is holding a nursing and midwifery recruitment day in the Capital today as NHS Lothian reels from its highest-ever vacancy levels.
The Irish are hoping to entice registered nurses by offering a starting salary of around £24,700 compared to the current £22,440 for an entry-level nurse starting work with NHS Lothian.
On top of that, they will receive £1300 tax-free for removal/relocation expenses including the cost of flights, first-time nursing registration costs and funded postgraduate education – and a second £1300 allowance after completing a year in the job.
The first conference will take place at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton today, with a further event being held in Glasgow tomorrow.
Earlier this week, the Evening News reported how the vacancy rate for nurses and midwives in NHS Lothian had reached its highest level ever – having more than trebled in the last year, leaving one in 20 posts empty.
The vacancy figure for NHS Lothian is currently 5 per cent – above the 4.5 per cent national average – with 506 vacancies, a rise of 233.7 per cent on the 151 vacancies in 2016. The 506 vacancies includes 151 that have not been filled for more than three months – up from 44.
The Royal College of Nurses (RCN) said there were “too few nurses” with staff now facing the reality of low morale and recruitment problems.
The Health Service Executive Ireland said it was targeting expats as part of its ‘Bring them Home’ campaign.
A spokeswoman said: “Scotland has been a natural destination for our young people when looking for work abroad and we appreciate the opportunities for careers and advancement it has offered our graduates recently and indeed our nurses and doctors over the generations. The HSE has been running a ‘Bring them Home’ campaign aimed primarily at our nursing and midwifery graduates that left to go abroad when recruitment was put on hold in 2009.
“The campaign has attracted others from Croatia, the Philippines and second generation Irish in Scotland. We have targeted our expatriates in Australia, New Zealand and North America as well as England Wales and Scotland.”
The RCN described the move by the Irish as “problematic” given the current levels of vacancies in Scotland.
RCN associate director Norman Provan said: “Many employers are struggling to recruit, and clearly other countries are having similar difficulties if Ireland’s health services are coming to Scotland.
“This is problematic because there is already a shortage of nurses and midwives here, as the record-high vacancy rate published this week showed.
“With so many vacancies, nurses are coming up against the reality of not being able to care for their patients because there’s just not enough staff. The bottom line is that without enough nurses, patients won’t receive the care they need.”