In the midst of a pandemic that has taught the world the value of well-trained health care professionals, more young people are still needed in order to strengthen the nursing profession, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Wednesday. 

Joined by representatives of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses, Fearne marked the celebration of International Nursing Day with a message to youth to join the nursing profession. 

“The pandemic has taught us that we need to take care of professionals," he said. 

"I want to appeal to young people to opt for careers in health care and take up nursing. The government is making big investments to expand the scope of services we can offer, but in order to run these places we are going to more people to take up the profession.”

There are currently around 3,300 nurses and midwives working in Malta, with 216 nurses and 11 midwives employed by the Health Department in 2020 and 138 nurses and eight midwives employed so far in 2021.

Fearne said authorities hoped to employ another 150 to 200 nurses by the end of the year. Some 400 students are currently undertaking their studies to becoming nurses at the University of Malta as well as at MCAST. 

A series of mental health workshops to support nurses who are suffering from burnout and depression will be held for nurses in the coming weeks and later extended to other medical disciplines, the minister announced. 

MUMN president Paul Pace said that the poaching of talent by foreign governments was still a challenge for the profession and that some 100 nurses from India had been lost to hospitals in the UK, Germany and Ireland.

“According to the International Council of Nursing, there is a global shortage of 30 million nurses and Malta is not exempt from this phenomenon,” Pace said. 

“It’s important for the youth of today to strive to become nurses and that they qualify and remain in the country long enough for our health services to remain self-sufficient. It’s an international profession that different governments are in competition with each other to attract, so it’s also important that we remain competitive in what we’re offering.”

Times of Malta had revealed in January that Malta faced a mass exodus of foreign nurses, with the UK poaching the skilled staff by offering more favourable working conditions and a better remuneration package. 

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