Overseas recruitment “not the answer” to hospital woes

19.11.2021 - 15:54
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 Mynd: RÚV
Sigríður Gunnarsdóttir, head of nursing at Landspítali national university hospital, says the staffing crisis in the Icelandic healthcare system will not be solved by hiring more foreign nurses. The hospital does not plan to actively seek out staff overseas.

Nurses accounting for a total of five full-time roles at Landspítali’s accident & emergency department have resigned—only adding to the shortage of healthcare staff—nurses most of all. 

Landspítali already has around 150 nurses from overseas; mostly from the Philippines, but Sigríður says hiring more is not the simple solution it might seem to be. 

“We already have a significant number of foreign nurses who are a wonderful addition and we celebrate them and try to welcome them well. But they are not the solution to this problem. That is both because demand around the world is perhaps no less, and also because nursing is by its nature a profession of communication and requires people to have the language at their disposal. So, all training and adaptation into the job is much more expensive and time-consuming when one is receiving foreign staff members,” Sigríður explains. 

It is also not fair, or maybe even unethical, to poach staff from countries that are probably also suffering shortages: 

“The World Health Organisation has recommended that Western countries not actively recruit nurses and other specialists from other parts of the world, where there may also be great need for the manpower. So, our approach at Landspítali is to welcome and be grateful for those who come here, but to not actively seek out staff elsewhere. Especially nurses.” 

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