A German hospital is trying to poach Polish nurses working in the UK, advertising jobs in English-Polish newspapers to encourage them to “come back home”.
Dr Tobias Pott, from the University Hospital of Düsseldorf, said the move was motivated first and foremost by a lack of nurses in Germany, but that they also felt it sensible to appeal to a community of nurses in the UK who may be considering leaving because of concerns over Brexit.
“Polish people feel very worried about their future in Britain. They are worried about freedom of movement, there are a lot of concerns about whether they’ll be able to stay and work in the UK,” said Pott.
“I don’t think we sparked this – but if they are thinking of leaving, why not come here?”
The Royal College of Nursing said it was concerned about a chronic shortage of nurses in the UK – there are more than 41,000 nursing vacancies in England alone and staff surveys suggest a rise in nurses working overtime since the EU referendum in 2016.
Since the referendum, more than 10,000 nurses and midwives from the European Economic Area have left the UK workforce.
The University Hospital of Düsseldorf has already received a handful of applications off the back of the adverts, and expects to receive many more. Pott said he hoped the good working conditions in Germany, its proximity to Poland and its reputation for nursing will be enough to convince Poles working in the UK to take the leap.
The advert, published in German and Polish, says: “Not only do we have the better pay, the better social benefits and better working hours … We also have the better weather, the better food and the shorter way to Poland. And the security of an EU state.”
Pott said the hospital planned to offer Polish nurses a resettlement programme, which would include travelling to meet them in the UK, helping them find accommodation in Germany and introducing them to the Rhineland carnival.
Artur Kieruzal, who works for Cooltura magazine, where one of the adverts was placed, said it had also received interested emails from the Polish community: “There was quite a big interest for many nationals from the EU who live in the UK. They have said that after Brexit, the environment won’t be good for us any more – why not leave and go elsewhere in Europe?”
Kieruzal said he was worried about that prospect, because it would break the Polish community apart, saying: “It will be a knife in our neck.”
He said that on Polish Radio London, where he hosts a programme, there was constant discussion about the terms of Brexit: “Of course there’s a fear. When we speak with our listeners on the radio there’s a lot of concerns about the future and the option to go back after Brexit is open.
“I am secretly hoping Brexit won’t happen. This is my home.”