UAE private hospitals struggling to retain nurses

Private hospitals in the UAE are struggling to retain nurses because of a salary disparity with government hospitals, the head of the Gulf’s largest healthcare network has said.

“Getting and retaining manpower is a huge issue in any healthcare institution. We find the major issue [is] when the government recruits from the private sector,” Dr Azad Moopen, chairman of the DM Healthcare Group, told Arabian Business.

“We have an issue where people are bought [over] from abroad, they come here…and even get six months training in the hospital and then suddenly they get a job in the government and then they want to leave.”

Dr Moopen, whose group runs a chain of 70 clinics and pharmacies across the GCC, said nurses can earn more working in the public sector. “Definitely the government has got many jobs that are paid higher,” he said.

There are around 18,000 nurses in the UAE, according to a 2007 Ministry of Health report. The UAE recruits the majority of its nurses from the Philippines, India and other Arab counties but continues to suffer amid a severe global shortage of qualified nurses.

The government has launched a number of initiatives aimed at tackling the problem including increasing salaries. A typical starting wage for a nurse is around AED10,000 a month, according to the ministry.

In November, the ministry announced plans to launch a degree programme aimed at boosting the number of Emirati female nurses. Currently only eight percent of nurses employed by the government are UAE nationals but the ministry hopes to raise the figure by boosting the prestige of the profession by offering a single bachelors degree.