A new report has found there is a “risk” Ireland will not have a single nurse by 2020, and it’s the result of the “unwarranted” demand for nursing positions that has driven the shortage.
The report from the Association of Medical Colleges and Research (AMCR) found that while Ireland is on track to have a shortage of nurse practitioners by 2021, the number of nurse candidates is still too low to meet demand.
“The challenge for the sector is that there are still nurses out there who want to work in this sector and want to be nurses,” said Dr Phil Hutchingson, the chairman of the AMCR.
He said Ireland is “very much in the middle of the pack” when it comes to demand for nurses.
“We are not in a position to meet our demand,” he said.
“If we did have a surplus, we would have a significant number of people in the profession who would be able to work, because they would have more experience in this industry and they would know the profession.”
Dr Hutchingsons report recommends that a national recruitment system be put in place to increase recruitment and that the sector be restructured.
The study also said Ireland has a “high risk” that if a shortage develops, it will impact the availability of healthcare support professions such as nursing, dentistry and veterinary medicine.
It also found that in the future, there will be a “significant number” of nursing positions available across the country.
Dr Hutchison said that while the shortage of nursing is “unexpected”, the country’s future needs are “not as dire as it seems”.
“We need to be looking at a range of solutions, including introducing an online recruitment system,” he added.
The AMCR report is published today and is expected to be welcomed by the Association for Nursing.
“There is not a single nursing position in Ireland at this time,” said Mr Paul McNulty, President of the Association.
“In fact, there are only a small number available, and they’re being advertised by people from all over the country.”
The report also found Ireland has one of the lowest rates of home care workers in the European Union, with just under 2 per cent of the population receiving home care.
Mr McNulty said it is important to note that the number one problem facing the profession is “the lack of training, the lack of expertise, the poor quality of training”.
“This is a problem that’s going to continue for a very long time,” he continued.
“As we’ve seen in recent years, we have the same problem with our primary care workers, which is the lack to properly train them.”
It’s very hard for them to get the training and the qualifications they need to actually do what they do.
“This isn’t something that’s been solved overnight, it’s something that will take time.”
The Irish Medical Association welcomed the report’s findings.
“With the recent introduction of a new recruitment scheme, it is clear that there is more to be done to improve the recruitment of nursing staff in Ireland,” said president Dr John Bannister.
“However, this is a challenging time, and the fact that the Government has now taken the first steps in addressing this issue suggests that the country is taking seriously its commitment to training and supporting nursing professionals.”