Press Release

Minister launches ‘Nursing and Midwifery Recruitment and Retention Initiative’ to address Nursing Shortages

IR£5m investment in new scheme of flexible working & financial support for nurses returning to practice or undertaking specialist training

The Minister for Health and Children, Micheàl Martin T.D., today (Wednesday 29th November) launched the ‘Nursing and Midwifery Recruitment and Retention Initiative’. The initiative is designed to attract qualified nurses and midwifes currently not working back into the public health service, retain nurses and midwifes in the public health service and address the need for more trained nurses in specialist areas.

The package will cost IR£5 million to implement and has been agreed between the Health Services Employers Agency (HSEA) and the health service unions. It includes a range of measures key amongst which are more flexible working arrangements for nurses and midwives enabling them to work on a permanent part-time basis. There are also significant improvements in the accessibility, provision and financing of training for nurses returning to nursing or undertaking certain specialist courses.

Minister Martin said; “It is the shared objective of the Government Health Service Employers and the nursing unions to ensure that there are sufficient nurses now and into the future to staff our health services. The package of initiatives that I have announced today represent an important further step along the road to achieving that objective. I believe that the key to retaining nurses in the public health service is to make the service a more attractive place to work and create the kind of atmosphere where nurses and midwives feel truly valued for their skills and professionalism.

The most recent survey of nursing vacancies undertaken by the HSEA revealed a total of 1,388 vacancies nationwide. Of the 64,000 nurses and midwives on the An Bord Altranais nursing register almost 11,000 are inactive. If even 10% of those on this register were to be attracted back to the workforce as a result of more flexible working arrangements this would go a significant way towards eliminating the present shortage,” he continued.

Key features of the initiative are: a new scheme of flexible working under which nurses may apply to work between 8 and 39 hours per week; the abolition of back-to-nursing fees; fee support and full salary for nurses while undertaking certain specialist training; and the introduction, for the first time, of re-training pay of up to IR£1,500 for nurses returning to the workforce. An additional IR£750,000 is being allocated to support Student Nurse Recruitment throughout Ireland through the Nursing Careers Centre and various Schools of Nursing. Finally, all nurses whether full time or part time will be invited to join the pension scheme following one years service.

The initiative is being supported by a specially developed advertising campaign, which the Minister also unveiled today. The campaign will make use of radio and print media to market nursing as a career with the specific objective of encouraging nurses back into the system. It will run over the coming weeks in the national media and in U.K. publications. The focus of the campaign is on the Eastern Regional Health Authority area and the Southern Health Board area where the shortage of nurses is most prevalent.

Nurses wishing to access further details on the latest measures should contact the following numbers in their area;

Southern Health Board – 1800 742 364
Eastern Regional Health Authority – 1800 271 171