The Royal College of Nursing has warned that the country could face a nursing crisis as many nurses are being lured abroad by offers of better pay and benefits. It also said that the nursing population was ageing very rapidly and that adequate measures must be taken to make sure that the NHS does not suffer another nursing crisis similar to the one in the 1990s.
The main issue for foreign nurses who settled here is the low pay scales that are offered that are offered on the NHS. Josie Irwin, head of employment relations at the RCN said that many nurses are now looking at better opportunities abroad, “We have Filipino and Indian nurses who may have come to the UK via Saudi Arabia and the Emirates some time ago, who are now looking to move onto other countries. They are tempted by offers from America and Australia, who are recruiting staff aggressively,” she said. The problem is especially acute in Scotland where the average age of an experienced nurse is 50, according to the RCN Labour Market Review.
RCN Scotland warned that over the next decade this problem would be compounded by the fact that many nurses will head into retirement and that the home grown nurses are being enticed by better opportunities abroad. “Our ageing nursing workforce will inevitably lead to more and more nurses leaving the NHS in the next 10 years as they reach retirement age,” said Jane McCready, chairwoman of the RCN Scotland board. She added that employers needed to start planning for the future.
“We should also remember that older nurses who do continue to work are less likely to work full-time. The NHS needs to be flexible enough to encourage them to stay on,” Ms McCready said. She said that these nurses had much more to offer and that every measure should be taken to encourage them to stay on.
Scottish Health Minister Andy Kerr promised to look into the situation, “We’ve got an issue in terms of the retiring profile of the nurse cohort at the moment but we can work with that and do things which will keep them on,” he said.