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INMO warns of UK Brexit nurse recruitment drive
Press release: 05.9.19


7 in 10 students have been offered overseas posts.

The UK is likely to step up its recruitment of Ireland’s nurse and midwives following Brexit, the INMO has warned in its pre-Budget submission  (Thursday 05/06/19).

UK hospitals currently recruit nurses and midwives from across the EU, but this is likely to become more difficult as migration controls are put in place following Brexit.

The Common Travel Area for Ireland and the UK means that Irish nurses and midwives will be “prime targets” for UK health recruiters.

New figures from an INMO student survey show that, as of June 2019, over 68% of nursing and midwifery students have been approached by overseas recruiters. 

When asked for the main factors that might keep them working in Ireland, 47% pointed to staffing levels and working conditions.

The INMO’s pre-Budget submission calls for funding to reach safe staffing levels throughout the health service, more undergraduate places for nurses and midwives, and resources to fully implement the safe staffing framework, as agreed following the INMO strike earlier this year.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:

“Ireland’s nurses and midwives are prime targets for UK health service recruiters. After Brexit, it’s likely that British hospitals will step up their efforts to draw more nursing and midwifery staff away.

“Even before Brexit, the vast majority of our graduating nurses and midwives have received offers to work overseas – often in better conditions.

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

“The upcoming Budget is a chance to kickstart that process, by investing in safe staffing, more student places, and implementing Sláintecare. The alternative is understaffed, overstretched services, where patients suffer and staff burn out.”


Notes to Editors:

Survey: The INMO student survey is an annual project, where graduating nurses and midwives are asked about their views and prospects. It received 447 responses (38% of total membership), running for the final two weeks of May 2019.

It found:

  • 68% of respondents have been approached by overseas nursing companies to recruit them into their service.
  • 47% say improved staffing levels and working conditions is the priority incentive to encourage them to stay in the Irish public health service.
  • 40% say increases in pay are a necessary incentive
  • 76% of 2019 graduates say the pay increases following the recent strike are likely to encourage them to work in Ireland.
  • 66% of respondents who plan to leave Ireland say the increases in pay will entice them to return to work in Ireland.
  • 68% of respondents who plan to leave say they would delay their departure for a year if their employer guaranteed employment for at least the first year after qualifying.
  • 60% of respondents have not been offered a permanent contract by their employer upon qualifying.
  • 73% have not found adequate staffing levels in the workplace to support a positive learning environment.

Pre-Budget submission:

The INMO’s pre-Budget submission is available here.

It calls for, among other things:

  • Implementation by 2021 of the National Framework on Nurse and Midwife Staffing
  • An increase in the number of undergraduate nursing and midwifery places
  • Full implementation of the National Midwifery Strategy
  • An increase of a minimum of 300 WTE nursing posts over the next two years to staff the National Children’s Hospital
  • An overall increase in the number of PHNs
  • Implementation of the Sláintecare Report with the commencement of spending on the multi-annual transitional fund to support investment.
  • No immediate changes to current flat rate expenses affecting nurses and midwives
  • Increasing taxation and broadening the revenue base
  • Higher increases in PRSI to be levied on employers and ringfenced for public health care.
  • Ring-fencing of revenue raised though sugar tax to fund the transitional fund and health education/awareness programmes regarding lifestyle choices, specifically targeted at school children of all ages.
  • Clear and targeted action on climate change and housing.



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