Demand for 1300 new nurses in Kuwait due to expansion
Kuwait: Kuwait’s booming healthcare sector and the construction of new hospitals and clinics have created an insatiable demand for more personnel. The recruitment of nurses has been pivotal in the proper functioning of any healthcare centre.
The reported dearth in Kuwait poses a question mark on the viable options available. Currently there is a demand for at least 1,300 nurses. The recruitment of foreign nurses is done almost every quarter in Kuwait. The Ministry of Health hired nurses in March-April this year when a team from the Ministry visited the Philippines and India to recruit about 800 new nurses.
The Kuwait Times reported last week that Kuwait suffers from a shortage of 1,300 nurses. New recruits will be hired from the Philippines, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka, the latter being a new manpower market for Kuwait. Since signing the MoU in 2010, Kuwait has recruited about 36 Sri Lankan nurses. Sri Lankan Embassy Charge de Affaires Noor Muhammad Anas said that the recruitment process has been extended, “As we speak, we are currently in the process of employing eight more nurses. In all, when these new nurses arrive we will have a total of 44(Sri Lankan) nurses in Kuwait. Our cooperation in this matter continues,” Anas revealed.
The recruitment of foreign nurses has been a staple event as fewer Kuwaitis choose to embark on a nursing career. On a slightly different note, better benefits and pay accorded to nurses in western countries have created a void in the Gulf region, Kuwait included. However, that status quo has changed after the ministry upgraded the salary of nurses employed in the public sector.
An insider from the public healthcare sector who spoke on condition of anonymity as she was not authorized to speak to the media said that the recruitment of nurses is akin to a ‘normal cyclical process’ of resignation and retirement. “The usual resignations came about when nurses pursued better opportunities in the US, UK, Canada, Australia or Japan. This is no longer the big issue.
Mostly, the resignations take place in relation to family problems,” she said citing the example of nurses who work for two years or staying away from families and husbands. “And there are many senior nurses [old age] that need to be replaced. So the process of recruitment continues,” she added.
According to the official, the ongoing process of recruitment of new nurses is tied to a political decision. “Once we experience shortage of nurses in Kuwait it becomes a big story; it’s a big deal for the country. Probably it may cost the [MoH] minister his position,” she alarmed.
Stressing that the expansion plans of hospitals and the increase in hospital beds require diligence on the part of the government, “I hope they have studied all the facts carefully like expansions are conducted in many hospitals/clinics, plus the new hospital projects are about to finish. So they need new nurses to fill-in new hospitals,” the official said.
The official who is well-versed on the MoH’s internal and management policies admitted that the dearth of nurses is evident in a few hospitals in Kuwait. “Many new nurses in the ministry have to work overtime,” she says. “We are supposed to have night duty only five times per month but some of us have to come or report for the night shift eight or nine times per month. The ministry will pay us only five times and the over time remains unpaid. Should we have enough staff members, I think that the circumstances would have been different,” she said.
The minimum two years experience pre-requisite has now been increased to three years. In addition, a nurse must be healthy and clinically knowledgeable. He/she should have attended training and seminars while working or studying in nursing school.
The current basic salary of new nurses is KD 450. However, often new recruits fork home heftier amounts when salaries are paid commensurate to experiences, specialties, seniority, “The basic salary is small but we get more than KD 700 a month because of the allowances, specialization and categorization,” the official said.
For us (BSN registered nurses), if we have extra knowledge the ministry will pay us more, plus we are paid KD 100 for performing night duties. If we perform five night duties, it means we get paid KD 500,” she revealed. Nurses employed with private clinics/hospitals however receive a minimum pay of KD 250 to 400 when compared to a minimum KD 700 or more that nurses working for public hospitals receive.
In early 2000, Kuwait had a total of about 200 local nurses, now the number has increased to 700. There is a lack of interest on the part of Kuwaitis to join the ranks of nurses. The official said, “Those citizens that enroll into nursing courses are those that really like the job or maybe have a passion for it. Otherwise, they prefer a managerial position.
Ben Garcia, Staff Writer