Spanish Nurses move to UK as Spain's economy falters


Author:Eastern Europeans Recruitment 2015

In October 2013, Spain’s Ministry of Employment and Social Security confirmed that the Spanish economy had lost 87,000 jobs bringing the number of unemployed people in the southern European country to a high of 4.8 million people. Spain’s economic drivers are dominated by tourism, pharmaceutical, auto-manufacturing, and oil and gas sectors. The fledgling automotive industry has been greatly upset by the economic downward spiral. On the other hand, the country’s tourism sector can only grow if the country is able to keep its public transportation sector workers employed.

The Spain pharmaceutical industry is facing an uncertain future since it is strongly dependent on the R&D capacity. The other sector in Spain that has taken a beating, is the real estate market. This sector has been destabilized due to the low uptake levels in the construction sector, combined with a corresponding failure of the financial institutions to take up the risks. The Spanish economy is not served by a central bank that can help oversee the management of the country’s financial sector. The national government can also not support bailouts for the failed industries as is the case in much of Europe and North America.

Spain’s unemployment rate is especially worst, amongst the youth. According to a BBC report, in early January 2013 the country’s official statistics set the unemployment figures at 26% or 6 million people with youths representing 55% of this number. The high number was attributed to prolonged recession and massive spending cuts by the Spanish authorities. On the other hand, according to figures from the European commission, the indices for Europe showed that the seasonally adjusted un-employment rates for January 2014 stood at 12%. Among the EU member states; Austria posted the lowest unemployment rates at 4.9% with Spain the highest.

Meanwhile the UK, unemployment figures continued on a downward trend, despite few notable fluctuations. The Office for National Statistics in UK indicates that the unemployment rates for December-to-January 2013 stood at a solid 7.2%. One of the employment sectors in the UK that is in dire need of personnel is the healthcare department. Shaun Lintern of Health Service Journal reports that the National Health Service (NHS) estimates suggest that the UK is likely to experience an excessive deficit of over 47,000 nurses by the year 2016.

Since the first signs of economic meltdown were noted between 2008 and 2012, about 365,000 Spaniards have travelled abroad to look for work according to a report by Eduardo de la Sota of European Hospital. Most recently, statistics from the Electoral Census of Spanish Nationals Abroad (CERA) indicates that up to 1.56 million Spanish nationals, over the age of 18 had registered to work abroad by October of 2013. Amongst the highest number of those leaving, are nurses. Figures indicate that Spain has about 540 nurses for every 100,000 individuals compared to a figure of 797 individuals in Europe.

Most Spanish nurses find the UK working environment quite stress free and well remunerating, with average salaries currently averaging about £23,000 for Registered Nurses (RN). Employee’s welfare is also well taken care of in the Britain; case in point is the availability of flex-work schedules. The other reason why the health workers are leaving Spain in droves is because of the deep spending cuts on health-care by the Spanish government. This has led to the growth of temporary contract placement jobs, with little to no opportunities for attaining permanent employment positions in hospitals.

The NHS has been recruiting a large number of Spanish nurses because British would be nursing graduates are denied the opportunity to study as a result of cuts in the nurse training positions in order to reduce government spending. Today, many managers are spending thousands of pounds employing recruitment agencies to fill up the fast rising nursing positions; even with applicants who do not speak English. Most British employers believe that the UK does not have enough trained nurses to overcome the rising demands; this has been aggravated by the fact that nursing is not a popular career choice in British.

Stephen Adams of the Daily Mail newspaper, reports that the number of student nurse positions that were available annually before the last general election was 5,000; these positions cost the UK government £70,000 to educate each nurse. The report further indicates that since 2009, one in every four nurse training opportunities have been eliminated, beginning from a high of 23,000 in 2009 to a low of 17,000 students positions in 2013. This is despite the receipt of about 200,000 nurse student applications annually. According to Adams, the report also showed a phenomenal growth in the number of Portuguese and Spanish nurses registered by the UK Nursing and Mid-wifery Council. The number had increased to 1,060 in 2012 from a low of 75 in 2007.

Eduardo de la Sota:
European Commission: Http://
Office of National Statistics:
Shaun Lintern:
Stephen Adams: