Nurse shortage foreseen for 2013 in Catalonia according to unions

Staff drain and changes in training programs, the main causes according to the Catalan Nurses Association. In the last years, Catalonia has been “exporting” nurses abroad, mainly to the United Kingdom, the US and Italy.

CNA / Sílvia Giménez

May 25, 2011 11:38 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- Up to 733 nurses have asked for information concerning working abroad in 2010, according to the Catalan Nurses Association. This is a 71% rise in comparison to 2009. In addition, a rise of 25% has been reported during the first term of 2011 compared to the first term of last year. The Catalan Nurses Association Secretary, Josep París, told CNA that the rise is due to governmental policies to reduce deficit. Moreover, París alerts that in “two or three years” there won’t be enough nurses in Catalonia due to the brain drain and changes in training programs.

Every day more and more nurses are disappointed with their job”, Josep París told CNA. “They have to work in “limit situations” and the perspectives are even worse in a context of budget cuts and economic crisis. This situation persuades many nurses to search for work in other countries. “Nurses want to leave and this puts the system at risk”, adds París.

A lack of nurses

Josep París guarantees that the lack of Catalan nurses will have “serious effects” on the Catalan health care system. In this respect, he warns that very few new nurses will join hospitals because of their need to adapt to the nurse training programs for European degrees. For this reason, París foresees that in 2013 or 2014 there will not be enough nurses and that they will have to be found abroad.

7,000 sick leave

Nurses face another threat: redundancies. One Spanish trade union, the UGT (General Workers Union), announced that budget cuts in hospitals would put an end to 7,000 jobs, “a large part of them nurses”. Josep París prefers to wait until the publication of final budget cuts to evaluate the real impact for nurses, but admits that many nurses will be affected.

United Kingdom, the new horizon

350 of the 733 nurses that have asked for information to leave have shown interest in the UK; 127 for European Union countries, 45 for United States (US), 36 for Ireland and 34 for Italy.

Second brain drain

Josep París alerts that considering the situation nowadays and the number of applications, “we could be facing the second brain drain”. The first brain drain occurred between 2001 and 2007, due to work agreements with the health care system in the US and Italy. These agreements guaranteed a permanent or temporary contract, a net salary of 1400€ and free accommodation during the first few weeks.