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Irish nurses will be ‘prime targets’ for UK recruiters post-Brexit, union says

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation warns government to improve working conditions

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation warns government to improve working conditions


Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation picketed outside Ireland’s
Cork University Hospital in February over pay and safe staffing. Picture: Alamy 

Nurses trained in the Republic of Ireland are likely to be ‘prime targets’ for UK health recruiters in the event of Brexit, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

The union gave the warning in its pre-Budget submission to the Irish Government, stating that UK hospitals’ recruitment of staff from across the EU would likely become more difficult if Brexit takes place.

The Common Travel Area for Ireland and the UK means that nurses and midwives trained in Ireland will be an option for UK health recruiters.

Call for more funding for safe staffing

The INMO’s annual survey of nursing and midwifery students, which received 447 responses, found that 68% had been approached by overseas recruiters as of June 2019.

The union urged the Irish government to provide funding to ensure safe staffing levels throughout the health service, as well as more undergraduate places for nurses and midwives.

The union’s members striked over safe staffing and pay earlier this year. 

Of the students surveyed, 47% said safe staffing levels and working conditions would be the main factors that might keep them working in Ireland.

Drive to improve retention of nurses 

INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: ‘After Brexit, it’s likely that UK hospitals will step up their efforts to draw more nursing and midwifery staff away.

‘We need to make the Irish health service an attractive place to work – that means getting staffing levels right.’

He added that the upcoming Budget announcement, expected next month, is a chance to ‘kickstart that process’.

'The alternative is understaffed, overstretched services, where patients suffer and staff burn out.’

A spokesperson for the Department of Health in Ireland said they would not comment on a pre-Budget submission.


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