Falling number of nurses leaving hospitals without staff for operating theatres and intensive care units.

Irish nurses have been emigrating for decades, with Britain being the preferred destination in the main. Higher salaries and better chances of promotion means there is a steady stream of nurses heading across the Irish Sea.

The current shortage of nurses has been exacerbated by a reduction in the number of trainee nurses taken on as students in 1987. Many hospitals are now without the required quotient of nursing staff in intensive care units and operating theatres. Hospitals in rural areas do not have enough general nurses.

The government's national programme for recovery agreed that the working week for healthcare personnel should be cut from 40 to 39 hours. A direct effect of this is that more nurses need to be recruited immediately.

We would need another 600 nurses, but where will we get them?

Liam Doran of the Irish Nurses Organisation (INO) says hospital managers have acknowledged that this is going to be a challenge for them and that there is no quick fix,

Where the answer is, only the future will tell.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 9 July 1990. The reporter is George Devlin.