Almost 2,500 Portuguese nurses seek leave to emigrate since start of pandemic

Another stark indication that the government is not doing enough to keep the healthcare staff that it has has come today with publication by the nurses official body (Ordem dos Enfermeiros) of numbers requesting permission to take their expertise elsewhere.

2,413 have put papers in for permission to leave Portugal since the start of the pandemic.

“Just in the last year (2021) the total number of nurses who have shown their intention to emigrate corresponds to roughly a third of the new nurses annually trained by Portuguese schools”, says the Ordem in a statement.

Newlt trained nurses intakes tend to ‘arrive in the market every summer’. Thus it is not difficult to see what is happening: “While up till June 2021 there were 277 requests for declarations (necessary for nurses to work in other countries), between June and December this year this number increased to 636”, said the statement.

Other European countries are carrying out “very aggressive recruitment campaigns”, the Ordem adds, stressing that the majority of Portuguese nurses are either going to Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, even the United Kingdom – all of which pay a great deal more than the Portuguese SNS.

As the Ordem explains, there have been critical moments recently – at the height of the pandemic – where the SNS sought to hire more nurses but literally could not find them “in spite of the fact that 3,000 new nurses come out of Portuguese nursing schools every year…”

The message, as always, is that it is “urgent to give nurses dignified conditions”; not to hand them short-term contracts, and send them looking for a career in a foreign country.

To this end, the Ordem wants to hear from each political party running in the elections what their intentions are to rescue the SNS State health service (click here).

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