More than 2,000 nurses have asked to leave Portugal since the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020, especially during the second half of last year.

According to data released today by the Ordem dos Enfermeiros (OE): “In the last year alone [2021], the total number of nurses who expressed an intention to emigrate corresponds to about a third of the new nurses trained annually by Portuguese schools”.

The Ordem dos Enfermeiros received 2,413 requests for declarations for emigration purposes.

According to the data, 1,230 requests were made in 2020 and 913 in 2021, especially in the second half of the last year, “a time when thousands of nurses leave schools for the job market”, says the OE.

“Thus, while until June [2021] there had been 277 requests for the issuance of declarations, between June and December this number rose to 636”, states the OE.

“European countries, which in the last two years have carried out very aggressive recruitment campaigns, continue to be chosen by Portuguese nurses, especially Switzerland, but the United Arab Emirates also receive, from year to year, more and more Portuguese professionals”.

After Switzerland, Spain and the United Kingdom, despite Brexit, were the main destinations chosen by Portuguese nurses in 2021.

“These numbers demonstrate the continuation of the trend of nurses' emigration, despite the chronic shortage of nurses in Portugal. It is recalled that, in the last two years, we have reached the point of wanting to hire nurses, at the most critical moments of the pandemic, and there are no nurses on the market, despite the fact that every year 3,000 new nurses leave the schools”, states the OE.

In this sense, “it is urgent to give decent conditions to nurses and not four-month contracts, to give them a career and not a plane ticket”, says Bastonária, Ana Rita Cavaco, stressing that in an election month it is essential to know what each party has in its programme for health, and for nurses in particular, and it is an emergency to find mechanisms for securing nurses in Portugal, as has already been recommended by the World Health Organization.