Norway overtakes the UK as the main destination for nurses, with salaries four times higher than in Spain

Until a few years ago, it was common to hear of cases of nurses, after training in Spain, heading to the UK to practice, encouraged by better working conditions and ease of finding stable work. But after the Brexit situation It has changed and now Norway is the most chosen destination. Of the nearly 1,500 nurses who requested a transfer outside our borders last year, 336 of them went to the Nordic country.

But the US was also one of the countries most in demand by professionals, with 226 people heading to the North American country. These are the data from the General Nursing Council (CGE) that were presented on Thursday at a press conference in Madrid. “Working conditions in Spain are not the best at all. “Working conditions, stability and opportunities for professional development have a significant impact on our colleagues’ dissatisfaction and their search for options more suited to their interests,” lamented the head of the CEG, Florentino Pérez Raya.

In this sense, the differences in salaries between Spain and other neighboring countries, such as the Nordic countries, stand out. “In Norway they can earn around 4,000 to 4,500 euros, while in Spain there are centers that pay 1,400 euros,” explained Diego Ayuso, Secretary General of the Commission for Gender Equality. José Luis Cobos, Third Vice President of the Council, stressed that displacement does not only respond to an economic cause. There are also factors that have to do with experience, but salary is still important. He said: “In the Nordic countries the salary is about 4,000 euros, in the United States it is something similar to our salary, and in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands it is about 3,500-4,000 euros.”

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They explained that the trend of migration towards the Nordic countries was seen in particular as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the political changes resulting from Britain’s exit from the European Union. But the UK, although it has lost a significant portion of the Spanish nurses who said they worked there, remains the third most chosen option, with 92 professionals leaving for the British country in 2023. It is followed by Ireland (60), the Netherlands (43) and Australia. (41).

Transfers between communities

But the transfer of nurses is not only international. It also occurs between autonomous communities and even between provinces. Specifically, last year, there were 6,646 nursing staff who left their schools to go to work in other regions, a situation that occurred particularly in the Balearic Islands, Castile and León, Melilla and Ceuta. CGE officials explained that this is particularly due to the difference in the proportion of nurses present between regions.

Spain already has very low rates compared to the rest of the countries in Europe. While the European average is 8.73 nurses per 1,000 inhabitants, according to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in our country it is 6.3. But in some autonomous communities the rate is lower. As the data presented this Thursday confirm, while there are autonomous regions such as Navarra, where there are 8.93 nurses per 1,000 inhabitants, or the Basque Country (7.99), there are others such as Murcia (4.74) or Galicia (5.09).

But there are more aspects that affect the loss of nurses in autonomous communities. The language barrier is one such barrier, as some regions require knowledge of the common official language. In fact, the Balearic Islands are the community that has lost the most nurses in the past year, although with the change of government, the famous Marja Bruhinz has abolished the requirement to know the Catalan language for doctors, nurses and other professionals.

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“We did not notice significant differences by language, but it is true that having a language restriction and making it a condition for obtaining a permanent job is a factor to take into account for nurses who have traditionally migrated to the Balearic Islands, for example. “Now, instead of going to “The Balearic Islands, they move to Castilla-La Mancha, for example.”

Sacha Woodward

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