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Italy — Importing nurses is big business

07 December 2009
According to the Federation of Nursing Colleges (IPASVI) there are now 10,000 foreign nurses in the affluent Milan and Lodi region of Northern Italy compared to only 212 in 2002 when the region opened its doors to nurses from other countries, il Giornale reports.

Angelo Macchia of the 'Nursing-Up' union, said "the point is that training a nurse costs money and that is in short supply at the moment. Hospitals prefer to hire nurses via staffing agencies instead of training them."

However, Macchia believes that employing such a large number of foreign nurses in the region comes with a high risk. He said, "we are not against immigrants. We would have a serious staffing problem if we didn't have them but often foreign nurses work far too many hours in order to make money quickly."

"During the night many work in retirement homes and during the day they work in a hospital. Often they are very tired and many of them don't speak good enough Italian to communicate properly with patients, doctors and other nurses."

IPASVI figures reveal that 54% of foreign nurses who work in Italy come from Romania, 10% are from Bulgaria. The remainder are South Americans, mainly from Peru and Paraguay.

Research carried out by the Institute for Economic and Social Studies (Ires-Cgil) concludes that the market for temporary employment agencies, which search and import nurses into Italy is a 300 milion Euro business. Specialist temporary staffing agencies such as Vita Serena employ nurses from non-European Union countries because there are not enough nurses in Italy.
Danilo Arcaini, Head of the Medical Department at temporary staffing agency Openjob, said "we get lots of enquiries from retirement homes and from private and public hospitals. At the moment we have 200 nurses working for us as temporary employees. Only 10% of them are Italians."


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