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Nurses' union criticises drive to recruit Filipino nurses

Nurses' union Super says Filipino nurses working as care assistants in Finland risk being paid below their skill level.

Healthcare Staffing Solutions, a subsidiary of Mehiläinen, trains Filipino nurses in Hong Kong. This image was captured from their website. Image: Healthcare Staffing Solutions

Finland is recruiting nurses from the Philippines to tackle its nursing shortage.

Fifteen Filipino nurses recently arrived in Pirkanmaa as part of a pilot programme to train as care assistants in Finnish elder care homes.

After completing training at a school in the Philippines run by a Finnish staffing agency, Healthcare Staffing Solutions Oy, the group is now doing their work placement at a unit of private healthcare provider Pihlajalinna in Sastamala, some 60km south of Tampere.

"They're so vibrant and have spread new energy and joy. They’re active and will set to work on anything," said Reija Puranen, a nurse charged with mentoring the Filipino students in the Pirkanmaa programme.

The nurses learned Finnish in the Philippines before arriving.

Municipal manager Antti Lahti said he hoped the pilot was successful.

"This is a good chance for us to get to know the Filipino students and see how it all works out. If the pilot is a success, it's possible we'll continue working with the programme.

Mending staffing gaps

Finland will need thousands of new nurses to meet statutory staffing requirements coming into force in 2023.

The city of Tampere also said it plans to hire Filipino care assistants for the dozens of openings at the city's elder care facilities. Tampere will recruit and train the nurses in cooperation with a subsidiary of private healthcare provider Mehiläinen.

Nurses' union Super has criticised the move to recruit nurses from the Philippines. It said municipalities should focus on retaining their current healthcare workers.

The union also pointed out that Filipino care assistants brought to Finland are trained as practical nurses or nurses in their home country. Super said that a lack of Finnish language skills may relegate these nurses to working for pay below their skill level as care assistants.

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