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Sunday 20th May 2018

Nursing exodus to Oz

22nd March 2007

With demoralising staff shortages and poor conditions caused by cash cutbacks, the exodus of nurses says more about the state of the NHS, than it does about the lure of all-year sunshine, writes the BBC’s Paul Burnell.


The Royal College of Nursing reports 8,000 nurses register to work abroad each year, and 3,200 of them are heading for Australia.

Nurses become worn down by the National Health Service's problems, which prevent them from giving the level of care they are trained for, he writes. Other nurses have been pushed out of their career paths and deployed to work in other areas.

Australian hospitals boast nurse to patient ratios that NHS nurses could only dream of, as well as good support and training – how can the NHS compete to shore up the predicted nursing shortages expected to hit in coming years? The Department of Health is unperturbed. Nurses have always left to work overseas, it says, and the NHS is striving to become a better and more flexible employer.

Meanwhile Australian hospitals are moving in to take staff off the hands of financially challenged trusts, many unwanted due to the 19,400 posts which have been lost or frozen in the past year.

‘With an estimated 71% of newly qualified nurses unable to find work Australian hospitals are now receiving applications from this group,’ he writes. ‘Ironically a leaked NHS report in January predicted a long term shortage of nurses with a shortfall of 14,000 expected in three years time.’

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