With Malta facing a critical shortage of nurses, hospitals have taken to undergoing recruitment drives as far east as India, particularly southern states like Kerala.
Recent online ads by a number of Indian recruitment agencies are calling on nurses to relocate to Malta, although the requirements appear to differ according to the agency.
For some, a degree in nursing is enough, while others also demand work experience. Some demand basic knowledge of the English language skills and an IELTS score of at least 5.5, while others state the an IELTS certificate is not mandatory, which goes against Maltese law. One particular agency says that nurses with an IELTS certificate will get paid €1,800 while those without it will only get paid €1000. Some ads are clearly discriminatory – one says nurses must be female and another that applicants cannot be older than 30.
Colin Galea, secretary general of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN), told Lovin Malta the country has a shortage of around 500-600 nurses. Although EU directives require Malta to try and recruit nurses from EU member states before resorting to nurses from third countries, Galea argued the measly salaries of Maltese nurses puts off most European nurses from relocating to the island.
In fact, out of an estimated 3,400 nurses, 260 are foreign – and 200 of these are from India and Pakistan, where wages for nurses are lower than they are in Malta.
To gain a warrant from the Maltese Nursing Council, all nurses – be they local or foreign – must clock up 2,300 hours of theory and 2,300 hours of practice and must have at least basic certified knowledge of English or Maltese. Within a year, foreign nurses must learn basic medical Maltese – through courses they must fund out of their own pockets – or get struck off the register.