Eight out of ten nursing graduates considering emigration

Just 30% of this year's graduates have been offered contracts by the HSE

14:15 25 Apr 2017 Michael Staines 14:15 Tuesday 25 April 2017

Just 30% of nursing students due to qualify this September have been offered contracts by the HSE, according to new survey.

The study from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association (INMO) found that 70% had been approached by overseas recruitment companies with 78% considering moving abroad.

The results contradict claims from the HSE that they are proactively offering permanent positions to all new graduates in an attempt to alleviate Ireland’s hospital crisis.

Hospital crisis

There are currently just under 1,500 nursing and midwifery interns completing their 36 week placement.

Health Minister Simon Harris has pledged to hire at least 1200 new nurses ahead of next winter as part of a plan to ensure there is no repeat of last year’s record numbers of patients waiting on hospital trolleys for treatment.

The INMO survey aimed to establish statistics and trends from the latest group of nursing graduates to find out about their employment prospects, whether they were considering emigrating – and what incentives would be required to keep them within the Irish public health sector.

The survey found that: 

The three main incentives new graduates are looking for in order to remain in Irish public health are increased pay, improved staffing levels and working conditions – and access to funded postgraduate education.

Recruitment and retention

INMO President, Martina Harkin-Kelly said the survey results 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,” she said.

“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.”

There are 3171 less nurses working in Ireland in 2016 than there was in 2007 according to the INMO – with the deficit potentially higher as there have been difficulties hiring replacements for those that are on maternity leave at any given time.

This is despite the fact that 9,000 nurses and midwives have been trained in Ireland since 2011.

The INMO has warned that the bill for hiring nurses through recruitment agencies for the first 10 weeks of 2017 reached nearly €8.3m.


Newstalk reporter Sean Defoe attended the launch of the INMO survey this morning and met a number of this year’s graduates.

Louise, who is doing her placement in Galway, said six out of ten of her close group of friends will be gone to the UK “by January at the latest.”

Tara, who is doing her placement in Drogheda, said she has already accepted a job in England:

“I would have loved to stay at home,” she said. “That is where I want to settle is at home. There is no place like home but there are no opportunities here, there is nothing and it is just understaffed and overworked.”

The INMO student and new graduate officer, Liam Conway said the survey responses “should be a wakeup call to the HSE.”

“They have a unique opportunity which is not available to overseas recruiters,” he said. “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.”

On Newstalk’s High Noon this afternoon Dr Ciara Kelly discussed the problem with international nursing recruiter Margaret Fox of the I.C.E Group and Jennie Reid – an Irish nurse who moved to London to avail of more specialised opportunities. You can listen back here:

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