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Ireland — Nurses flee abroad to escape unemployment

19 November 2009

Over 130 newly-trained nurses have left the country to work for Whipps Cross Hospital in London because they could not find jobs in Ireland, the Irish Post reports.

The figure represents more than 8% of the total number of nurses trained in Ireland in the past 12 months (1,600) at a cost of 90,000 Euro each with no prospect for employment because of a recruitment ban by the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE).

Liam Dolan, General Secretary of the Irish Nurses Organisation said "the Irish health service will rue the day they have allowed these nurses to migrate in such large numbers without offering one of these expert practitioners a permanent post. We will not bring back these people that quickly. They will find their own lives over there."

"The health service in Britain (NHS) looks after these nurses with things like subsidised accommodation etc. We are battling against a very strong tide on this one. This is a problem the Irish Government hasn’t grasped because they have been blinded by economic problems."

Cathy Geddes, the director of nursing and quality at Whipp’s Cross Hospital said "them coming over to us has been an absolute Godsend. To get such large numbers in one recruitment drive has been great for us. They (the Irish nurses) are well trained, have high standards of care are very professional in the way they carry out their work and we share a common language. We have been able to put them straight into the wards."

John Gilmore from Galway who is now working at the hospital said "I am disappointed that I didn't have the opportunity to practice my skills at home, it's difficult, but I am getting used to it. If things are going to be better here then that's the reality. I will be based here. That is just the way it is."

These latest revelations look like a throwback to decades past when in 1971 one-in-10 nurses in Britain were Irish-born. In 1987 with a labour force of over 1.3 million, unemployment in Ireland peaked at 422,500 and nearly 23,000 people left the country.

Now with a labour force of over 2.2million, over 400,000 people are unemployed and it is predicted that 40,000 people will emigrate.



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