Leader comment: Irish nurse raid needs response

NHS Scotland could lose nurses to Ireland, at a time when it has worryingly high vacancy levels. Picture: PA
NHS Scotland could lose nurses to Ireland, at a time when it has worryingly high vacancy levels. Picture: PA
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Just when it wasn’t needed, Ireland’s health service is coming to Scotland to lure nurses and midwives to the Republic. It’s a tempting offer, with a better salary at entry level, relocation expenses with tax break, an allowance, and help with education costs. As NHS Scotland struggles with highest-ever vacancy levels, this raid is not good news.

The campaign is aimed at bringing home Irish ex-pats, and to be fair, Scotland is one of several countries where this approach is being pursued, but the NHS is not in a position to lose its Irish nurses without putting further pressure on staffing levels. And in addition, the Irish offer could prove attractive to Scots who feel they are being short-changed by their own profession.

The challenge for the Scottish Government is to find ways of retaining NHS staff, and ensuring that working in Scotland is an attractive option. A similar challenge exists in teaching.

The health secretary, Shona Robison, reports an increase in trainee nurses and midwives. That’s good news – but once these new recruits are in position, their worth to society must be properly recognised.