Irish-trained nurses and midwives will be "prime targets" for recruitment by British health services after Brexit, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

In its pre-Budget submission, the INMO says that while the NHS currently recruits many nursing personnel from across the EU, migration controls after Brexit will make this more difficult - in turn making it more attractive to recruit Irish nurses who can avail of the Common Travel Area with the UK.

The INMO student survey which received 447 responses found that as of June 2019, over 68% of nursing and midwifery students had been approached by recruiters from abroad.

47% of those surveyed cited staffing levels and working conditions as factors they would consider when deciding whether to work in Ireland, while 40% said pay rises were a necessary incentive.

76% of 2019 graduates said pay increases following the recent strike were likely to encourage them to work in Ireland, while 66% of respondents planning to leave Ireland said the increases in pay would entice them to come home to work here.

68% of those planning to leave indicated they would delay their departure for a year if their employer guaranteed employment for at least the first year after qualifying - but 60% had not been offered a permanent contract by their employer upon qualification.

73% have not found adequate staffing levels in the workplace to support a positive learning environment.
 

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha warned that even before Brexit, the vast majority of graduating nurses and midwives were offered work overseas, and often with better conditions.

She said it was vital to make to Irish health service an attractive place to work - and that meant getting staffing levels right, as the alternative would mean understaffed overstretched services, where patients suffer and staff burn out.

The INMO pre-Budget submission also calls for funding and resources to improve staffing levels across the health service, to deliver more undergraduate places for nurses and midwives, and to implement Sláintecare.

The union is demanding 300 extra nursing posts over the next 2 years to staff the National Children's Hospital, full implementation of the National Midwifery Strategy, and more Public Health Nurses.

The INMO is also calling for no immediate changes to current flat rate expenses affecting nurses and midwives, higher increases in PRSI to be levied on employers and ringfenced for public health care, and revenue raised through a sugar tax to be targeted at health education awareness programmes particularly for school children.

Meanwhile, neither the INMO, the HSE, the Department of Health nor the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has yet revealed details of productivity measures intended to offset the cost of pay improvements for up to 40,000 nurses and midwives following the strikes earlier this year.

The Labour Court recommendation which resolved the row provided for the increases - but only if verifiable cost-offsetting productivity measures were delivered and verified.

DPER originally stated that the cost would be up to €15 million in 2019 and up to €35 million in 2020 subject to the productivity savings being delivered.

However, responding to a Parliamentary Question from Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly in July, Health Minister Simon Harris estimated the cost of implementation of pay improvements for nurses in 2019 alone at €57.7 million. 

The Minister pledged that a detailed implementation plan was being finalised by the HSE, which would set out "key productivity measures that will be subject to independent verification".