As part of the INMO’s staffing/recruitment/retention campaign the Organisation undertook a survey of all nursing and midwifery internship students (on 36 week placement) to examine where this group from 2017 would seek employment upon qualification in September 2017. The survey aimed to gather statistics and trends from the group regarding their gender, age, consideration of emigration, current employment prospects and incentives that would encourage them to remain with the Irish public health sector. There are currently just under 1,500 nursing and midwifery interns completing their 36 week placement.
The main findings of the survey are as follows:
• 78.10% of respondents, the majority of whom are 23 years or under, are considering emigrating upon qualification;
• 78.78% of respondents stated that they would consider staying in the Irish public health service for at least a year upon qualifying if offered guaranteed permanent contracts;
• 70.20% of respondents had been approached by overseas recruitment agencies before April 2017, while only 29.8% had been offered permanent or part-time positions in the Irish public health service at that time;
• Of the 29.8% only 16.25% had been offered permanent contracts in Ireland at the time of the survey while 58.92% were considering moving to the private sector in Ireland;
• 71.56% of respondents had not been offered a permanent post by their current employer, despite the fact that the HSE stated, in 2016, that they would offer permanent positions to all new 2017 graduates upon qualifying; and,
• 31.2% said they would consider moving to a workplace closer to home due to cost.
The evidence from the survey contradicts the current HSE assertion that they are 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:
• 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. To correct this and 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 INMO);
• Offer 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;
• Provide contracts that guarantee post qualification employment to all training nursing and midwifery students. This will render recruitment from overseas less effective;
• Provide career breaks within the contract to allow travel for a period;
• Start recruiting students at the commencement of their internship year in order to compete with early recruitment efforts by overseas employers; and,
• Improve and increase the availability of post graduate education and specialisation courses of education in order to compete with UK and other markets.
Speaking this morning, INMO Director of Industrial Relations, Phil Ni Sheaghdha said:
“The number of nurses and midwives working in the Irish public health service has reduced from 39,006 in 2007 to 35,835 in 2016. The actual number is less given that 2% are on maternity leave at any given time and there is very little replacement.
The annual failure by the HSE to pro-actively recruit its own graduates in a timely and competitive manner is clearly influencing graduate decision making, in regard to their employment post qualification. In the current highly competitive global market, a major improvement will have to be introduced by the HSE regarding their recruitment practices in expensive overseas recruitment campaigns to fill vacant posts in Ireland when there is a worldwide shortage of nurses and midwives.
It is also worth noting that in March 2017 the Nursing Agency bill for the first ten weeks of the year was reported as €8,281,552.
Our new graduates continue to be lured abroad and into private hospitals in Ireland by high cost area supplements, access to on-going education, signing on bonus, accommodation allowance etc.”
Liam Conway, INMO Student and New Graduate Officer commented:
“Students were very honest and truthful in this survey. The testimonials they gave and the replies to the survey should be a wakeup call to the HSE. They have a unique opportunity, which is not available to overseas recruiters, yet they continue each year to leave it too late to recruit, and then engage in a process which is not efficient or encouraging to graduating Irish nurses and midwives.”