IFGH 2012: Nurse Migration and Health Workforce Planning in the Irish Context

January 31, 2012

Authors:Humphries N., Brugha R., McGee H.

Author Affiliations:Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Option 1– Scientific / Empirical Research Findings Presented as – Oral Presentation


Ireland began actively recruiting nurses internationally in 2000 and is now the OECD country most heavily reliant upon international nurse recruitment. This paper reflects on a decade of international nurse recruitment in the Irish context.


The paper analyses secondary data from An Board Altranais and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation. It also draws on a 2009 survey of non-EU migrant nurses (N=337) working in Ireland and interviews with key stakeholders (N= 12) in 2009/2010.


  • Non-EU migrant nurses accounted for 35% (N=14,546) of newly registered nurses 2000-2010 with 11,481 non-EU migrant nurses obtaining visas 2000-2009.
  • The numbers recruited internationally almost matched the numbers trained locally 2000 -2010 – 14,546 non-EU and EU nurses joined the Irish nursing workforce alongside 17,264 Irish-trained nurses.
  • A fresh challenge for nurse workforce planning is the slowing of immigration and a possible increase in emigration by non-EU nurses. Between 2008 and 2010, verification requests were processed on behalf of 4202 non-EU migrant nurses, equating to 29% of those recruited since 2000.
  • Our 2009 survey of non-EU migrant nurses asked about future plans; 19% (65) of respondents intended to stay in Ireland, 49% (166) intended to return home and 23% (79) planned to migrate another country.

Discussion/conclusions/ implications:

International nurse recruitment became a major contributor to the nursing workforce by default – ‘I believe the State doesn’t really know . . . before they hire us they don’t have a plan or policy in place’ (Migrant Nurse Survey 260). Successful international nurse recruitment campaigns obviated the need for health workforce planning in the short-term, but did not solve the nursing shortage. The current assumption that nurse migration (emigration and immigration) will always work for Ireland over-plays the reliability of international recruitment as a health workforce planning tool.



Climate Change: Implications for Health and the Healthcare System 

Date of Event: November 18, 2021 Time: 1:00 – 2:30s pm...

Global Partnerships & Networking in a Time of Change 6th Partnership Forum 2021

ESTHER Ireland invites you to join the 6th Partnership...

The HIV and AIDS Pandemic 40 years on

The HIV and AIDS Pandemic 40 years on: Ireland’s...

Women in Global Health Ireland Public Strategy Meeting

Date: 6th July, 2021 Time: 13:00 – 14: 30 Irish...

Campaign Launch: People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland

Campaign Launch: People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland Date:...

Global Health Matters – Live Event Series

The Implications of Ireland’s Low Carbon Bill on...


Subscribe to Newsletter

Sign up to become a member and receive our weekly updates