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Malta’s nurses union shares concerns as Britain and other rich countries recruit their top foreign nurses, including Indians

MALTA: Nurses union in Malta says that the UK and other rich countries are recruiting their best foreign nurses, including Indians, with offering better pay and conditions. The union has warned that hospitals for COVID-19 patients could face a crisis if the situation continues.

Hundreds of Asian nurses work in Malta. About 150 of them went to other countries in Europe last month alone. In a statement, the MUMN union said that nurses have handed their resignation since last December and that this is a major crisis.

About 15% of the total nursing staff in Malta are foreign employees, including Indians, Pakistanis and Filipinos. They are especially attractive to the UK and Ireland as they speak English. Recruitment agencies in the UK and India have placed a Facebook advertisement urging nurses in Malta to apply for jobs in Britain.

The salary in Malta is €18,722 for trainee nurses and €21,000 for qualified nurses. But the basic starting salary offered to nurses by advertisers is £32,000 or €36,000 ($44,500). The nursing union said the benefits, along with higher salaries, were particularly attractive.

One of the most important of these is the promise of future citizenship for nurses and their families. Some British agencies also offer free accommodation for foreign nurses for the first 12 months.

“The present nursing workforce is already working under a heavy workload with none of the wards…having the agreed nursing complement,” nurses union leader Paul Pace said in a statement. “Losing 15% of the nursing workforce will literally bring the health service to a standstill,” he added.

Other southern European countries are complaining about the shortage of nurses during the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, rich northern countries are hiring nurses with better packages. Meanwhile, the union said it would seek to persuade foreign nurses to stay in Malta, including issuing residency permits.

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