19 July 2006

Australia on offer to British nurses

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A representative of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said it was sad that qualified nurses were being forced to look further afield for work as they fall victim to the health economy crisis.

Karen Webb, director of the eastern region for RCN, added: "Nurses have always worked across the globe and that is no bad thing. But it is very sad when nurses who have spent three years and a great deal of money to get qualified are unable to find work close to home.

"The average age of student nurses is about 30 and therefore many of those who qualify are tied to their local area and cannot move away. As a result their only option is to accept bank and auxiliary work or leave the profession.

"In a few years' time we will be crying out for nurses but it is not like a supermarket where you can just pick them off the shelf - you can't ask people to make all this sacrifice to train up and then tell them there's no work for them."

Increased recruitment of UK nurses by hospitals overseas could also signal a reversal in the trend of foreign nurses coming to work in this country.

At the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, 166 of its 2,551 nurses come from the Philippines following a recruitment drive several years ago during a nursing shortage. However, the RCN does not believe foreign nurses are a significant cause of the current employment situation.

Vacancies advertised by Australia-based hospitals include positions in medicine, surgery, emergency, women's health, renal, paediatrics, mental health, intensive care, orthopaedics, rehabilitation and theatre.

One Australian hospital is offering salaries ranging from A$41,171 and A$55,398 - the equivalent of £16,800 to £22,600 - and is also offering relocation packages.

The Australian advert aimed at Brits reads: "Cairns is a modern tropical city with a relaxed atmosphere and is the primary gateway to the Great Barrier Reef region. It has excellent facilities including a university and an international airport providing easy access to Australia and the world."

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