Nurses fleeing low pay

HOSPITALS in the capital say that they are facing a staff crisis as nurses head abroad for better wages.

Hospital managers say that there are serious shortages of nurses on wards, and that many women who finish nursing studies are heading to western Europe with their skills rather than into Slovak hospitals.

"We've got a deficit of nurses. Four times recently we put an ad in papers that we're looking for nurses. We offered inexpensive accommodation near the hospital. We got very few replies," said the head of the personnel department at Bratislava's Dérerova hospital, Kamila Kniesová.

Even those that do come to work at hospitals do not usually stay long, she explained. "Among nurses there's a lot of turnover. They come, work for a few months to get experience and then leave," Kniesová said.

Health sector workers are among the worst paid in Slovakia. Average wages for nurses are between Sk7,000 ($140) and Sk9,000 ($180) per month, rising to Sk14,000 ($280) only for those with three years or more experience.

The average wage among nurses in Slovakia is Sk12,500 ($275), compared to almost Sk15,000 for industrial workers.

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