It is two years since the HSE began a major effort to recruit Irish nurses working in the UK’s health service.
Every few months since then it has made successive attempts to entice Irish nurses abroad to come home and work here.
The HSE’s efforts have been a dismal failure.
In late December of last year the HSE held another recruitment drive in Dublin aimed at Irish nurses home for the Christmas holidays.
It offered a relocation package of €1,500 and a salary of €35,000 but the the drive attracted fewer than 100 applicants.
The situation is becoming even more acute, according to the Labour Party’s health spokesman, Alan Kelly, who pointed out that the HSE’s own figures show there has been a net increase of just 13 nurses in the health service up to the end of August — despite a pledge to recruit 1,224 more full-time staff this year.
Only 200 out of 1,500 graduates chose to take a job with the HSE.
In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, hospital trusts are hoping to entice HSE nurses and nursing graduates to go north of the border, offering not just better salaries and shorter working hours but career and personal development programmes.
The HSE must do likewise and show nurses that they are truly valued and respected. After all, they — not the administrators and managers — are the heart and soul of the health service.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved