Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is to recruit more than 600 nurses – mostly from the Philippines but also some from India – as an emergency measure to meet a critical shortage in Northern Ireland, it was announced on Monday.
The nurses cannot be found in the European Union, not because of Brexit but because there is also a shortage of trained staff on the Continent.
Across the UK as a whole there is a reported shortage of 40,000 nurses but in Northern Ireland, the shortfall is said to be 1,500 – 10 per, cent below capacity. Pegging nurses’ pay to 1 percent increases has aggravated the problem.
From hearsay and a single photograph, staff nurse Sabitha Nambiar has a mental picture of Antrim, in Northern Ireland. It is soon to be her home, and, in her mind, it is very much like Shillong – a hill station in Meghalaya, northeast India’s tea growing region with Victorian bungalows, the world’s wettest championship golf course and daily power cuts. All she knows for sure is the maths. In Britain, nurses earn in one year what in India takes them a decade.