Thousands of NHS nurses may be poached by the US for Obamacare

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A senior health official has warned that the health reforms implemented by President Obama may result in thousands of NHS nurses leaving to work in America.

Professor Ian Cumming, who is the head of the NHS body responsible for the education and training of health professionals, said that the US has a shortfall of around 100000 nurses and they may consider looking at the UK to fill this gap.

Professor Cumming stated that the NHS would be ‘stuffed’ if many of the nurses who have been trained in the UK leave the country to fill the gaps the US workforce has to endure.

Obamacare reforms have offered millions of people access to health care, however it has forced hospital in the US to drastically expand their staff complement. Only about 569 UK-trained nurses have expressed interest in working in the US, Professor Cumming said that the introduction of Obamacare earlier this year could prompt the US health firms to turn their eyes toward the UK for staffing.

He said the opportunity of obtaining a 3-year fixed term contract with a similar salary, the opportunity to do a MA, accommodation and being able to live in San Francisco, Hawaii, New York, or anywhere you choose, may be very attractive to a new qualified, 20-something nurse.

He said that the loss of too many UK nurses will be a huge waste of money. It costs between £30000 and £40000 to train one nurse in the UK.

He stated that it was crucial that the NHS supported and showed support for existing nursing staff. The morale of nursing staff is at an all-time low in the NHS. This is due to increased work pressures and a lack of adequate salary increases.

A recent survey indicated that in excess of 50% of nurses had considered leaving their job. Many of these had looked into moving to Dubai or Australia as the salaries offered are much higher. Salaries are also higher in the US.

The Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Dr Peter Carter, said that nurses who have moved to the US have felt that their service to the community is valued and they are well paid. If the NHS hopes to retain nurses, they need to ensure that the nurses feel the same way about the NHS.

Image Credit: OnCall team

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