• 20 April 2021
  • 10 min read

How To Move From Ireland And Work In The UK As A Nurse

  • Emma Keane
    Registered Nurse - Critical Care ITU
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
  • 1
  • 982
"An Irish nursing qualification and registration is considered a gold-standard in regards to training and experience."

ICU Nurse, Emma, offers her lived advice of moving & working in the UK with an Irish Nursing qualification, outlining salary expectations, job opportunities and how to register with the NMC.

Topics covered in this article

Your Passport To The World

Travel Is The Best Education

Why Move To The UK?

Why Do So Many Nurses Leave Ireland?

Getting Registered With The NMC

Job Opportunities & Salary Expectations

Working Hours

Long-Live Ryanair

Your Passport To The World

From my own experience, the standout benefit of being a qualified Nurse is the ability to transfer skills and qualifications worldwide.

An Irish Nursing qualification and registration is considered a gold-standard in regards to training and experience.

Although process times may be slow, it is usually relatively easy to transfer registration to another country.

I completed my four-year nursing degree in Dublin, Ireland in 2015 and since then I have lived and worked in four different countries and healthcare systems; Ireland, Australia, Canada and the UK.

Travel Is The Best Education

In this article I will focus on moving to the UK as an Irish born and Irish trained Nurse.

Travelling for work has been beneficial both professionally and personally.

The experiences I have gained through seeing alternative healthcare systems, have allowed me to reflect on my own practice and emulate some of the best Nursing I have seen from around the world.

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Despite this I have always been a homebird and while living in Australia and Canada I felt a huge pull to come back to this side of the pond.

After over two years away, my fiancé and I felt we had exhausted travelling and had a desire to come back and “settle down”.

Why Move To The UK?

When we were exploring job opportunities in Ireland and the UK for our return, it was evident that there was a high level of demand for Nurses in both countries.

With having just returned from travelling our budget was small, therefore cost of living was the deciding factor and with housing prices in Ireland astronomical we settled on the UK.

With approximately 45,000 registered Nurse vacancies in the UK currently, there remains a vast demand for Overseas Nurses.

Although Brexit has affected the way in which many Overseas Nurses can come and work in the UK, under the Common Travel Area (CTA), British and Irish citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and privileges.

The CTA makes Irish migrant Nurses the most suitable and easily accessible workforce to fill the UK Nursing shortages.

Why Do So Many Nurses Leave Ireland?

Ever since the inception of the NHS so called “Irish Angels” arrived in their thousands, lured by the prospects of training, work and independence and they became the backbone of the UKs national health service.

To this day, Irish Nurses are considered to be highly trained healthcare professionals and an Irish Nursing degree is often seen as a passport to the rest of the world.

The emigration of graduate Nurses in particular has become somewhat of a rite of passage.

Despite a world-renowned undergraduate programme, once qualified, Irish Nurses enter into a poorly serviced and funded healthcare system.

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In 2017, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) conducted a survey of final year undergraduate Nurses.

That survey revealed that a massive 78 per cent of prospective Nurses were considering emigrating upon qualification.

The INMO have attributed this staggering figure to failure of the Health Service Executive (HSE) to “proactively recruit its own graduates in a timely and competitive manner”.

The HSEs “annual failure” to address the poor pay, career progression and conditions for Nurses means that the drain of Irish Nurses to more desirable locations will continue.

Getting Registered With The NMC

I started the process of registering back while we were still in Canada as I was aware that registration can often take around six months.

My registration took seven months and many follow up emails to complete.

No matter which country you are applying to, I would recommend phoning or emailing regularly to ensure the board have received your relevant files and that the process is still moving forward.

Staff were always extremely helpful when contacted for updates.

When sending documents by post always make sure to send them recorded as this will hopefully prevent your valuable paperwork going astray.

However, the NMC have changed their application process from paper to online since 2019, which will hopefully eliminate this risk.

• As Ireland is a largely English-speaking country, your leaving certificate and degree course taught through English should be enough to satisfy the NMCs English requirement.

• You will be required to submit a police clearance from any country you’ve lived in within the last 10 years. If like me, you’ve worked abroad this can take time and money!

• They will also ask you to send a recent medical declaration from your GP, this is pretty basic and shouldn’t be a problem.

• If you’ve ever been married or changed your name you will have to submit evidence of this in addition to a copy of your passport.

• You will need to provide the Qualification evaluation fee: £140 on submission of your application and registration fee: £153 on successful registration, in addition in order to comply with NMC regulations and remain on the register you will be required to pay £120 annual retention fee every year.

Job Opportunities & Salary Expectations

The NHS does not take overseas experience into consideration for incremental pay scales and therefore any new starters to the NHS start at the minimum band pay.

There are some exceptions to this but in my case, I was put at the bottom of the Band 5 PayScale i.e., £24,907 for my current role as an Intensive Care Nurse.

In comparison to my starting salary as NQN in Ireland; 30,009-euro equivalent to £25,652.

Despite this, the NHS is very strong when it comes to training and development, with Band 5 RNs commonly being supported financially with postgraduate courses.

Undertaking a postgraduate course can often make Band 6 roles (starting salary £31,365) more accessible, but not always.

Working Hours

An area which is not discussed commonly is that the working week for the above salary of a NQN in Ireland is 39 hours /week in comparison to that of a NQN in the UK; 37.5 hours /week.

Nurses in Ireland work the longest hours in the English-speaking world! Personally, when I worked in Ireland, I would work three 12-hour days and approximately every 4 weeks I would work a 4th 12-hour day to make up to the required 39 hour /week.

Approximately every 6 weeks I would work seven 12-hour night shifts in a row with a week off afterwards.

I found this challenging as I would also be driving an hour to and from work with the additional expense of a toll bridge 1.50euros.

As I worked in a city centre location, we weren’t offered parking so I’d have to park 15-minute walk away from work and pay 5 euros a day for the privilege!

In my current role, I work 3 12 hour shifts a week alternating every 2 weeks between nights and days.

My current commute is an 8-minute drive and parking is free!

It might not sound like a big deal but these small changes have had a big overall effect on my day and general work-life balance.

Long-Live Ryanair

The best thing about living and working in the UK has been the accessibility and low cost regular, reliable flights home to Ireland.

However, Covid severely disrupted this meaning I haven’t been able to travel to and fro to see family like I’d hoped.

I hope to see the return of frequent non-stop flights such as those offered by Ryanair for as little as £20.

Time will tell whether accessibility between Ireland and the UK will return to pre-covid times.

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Do you have any questions for Emma?

Ask Emma questions below

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About the author

  • Emma Keane
    Registered Nurse - Critical Care ITU

After qualifying in 2015 I worked for a Tertiary Hospital in Dublin, on a busy Surgical Ward. I moved to Australia in 2017 & spent 18 months working and travelling as an RN. I took a 6 month sabbatical from Nursing to travel across Canada. I moved back to the UK in 2019 and worked as a Dialysis Nurse for 1 year before taking up my current role as an ITU Nurse. I have a keen interest in Research & Practice Development and hope to focus further study in this area.

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  • Emma Keane
    Registered Nurse - Critical Care ITU

About the author

  • Emma Keane
    Registered Nurse - Critical Care ITU

After qualifying in 2015 I worked for a Tertiary Hospital in Dublin, on a busy Surgical Ward. I moved to Australia in 2017 & spent 18 months working and travelling as an RN. I took a 6 month sabbatical from Nursing to travel across Canada. I moved back to the UK in 2019 and worked as a Dialysis Nurse for 1 year before taking up my current role as an ITU Nurse. I have a keen interest in Research & Practice Development and hope to focus further study in this area.

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    • Aigbekaen Bridget Amen 3 months ago
      Aigbekaen Bridget Amen
    • Aigbekaen Bridget Amen
      3 months ago

      Thanks Emma for this information. Please, I Want to ask, for an oversea nurse that started both NMBI and NMC Registration ... read more