Sweden lures nurses back

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A Swedish employment agency generated huge interest with its full page advertisements in some Scandinavian newspapers, offering nurses Norwegian wages in Sweden. The move is designed to lure nurses back to their homeland, but the loss of Swedish staff would have major impact on the Norwegian hospital system.

Outi Luiro from nursing employment agency Zest Care told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that many nurses are attracted to Norway by higher pay, either on long-term contracts or for seasonal work. Wages in Norway for a graduate nurse average around NOK 100,000 (USD 16,660) more than in Sweden. On Wednesday she said more than 200 have jumped at the offer to return home on the same high conditions they’ve become accustomed to in Norway.

Akershus University Hospital (Ahus) outside Oslo is one of the hospitals that would struggle if it lost much of its Swedish staff. “Yes, that would clearly give us greater challenges than we have today,” said HR Director Jan Inge Pettersen. “We have both permanent Swedish staff, not to mention a significant portion of the temporary workforce.”

Nurse recruiter Andreas Papagiannis told NRK it’s not just the higher wages which draw staff to Norway, but better staffing levels, responsibility for fewer patients, and a calmer working environment. “Getting the opportunity to focus on the patient, getting time to think and not just run,” he explained.

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