Health bosses are heading to Ireland this week to tempt nurses and other medics to work in North Wales.
They are going to a jobs fair in Dublin on April 23, plus others in Manchester and Glasgow in June, to fill positions in nursing, physiotherapy, pharmacy and doctors, so reducing the use of agency staff.
The team from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) are also considering recruiting health staff from the Philippines, after previously successfully attracting many from the country to work in North Wales.
Part of the team heading to Ireland for the Health Sector Jobs Expo to promote North wales under the banner Work Where You Want To Live will be Cork-born physiotherapist Maureen Bartley.
She has now spent more than 20 years in the UK, moving to Rhyl 13 years ago. She previously worked in the south of England and had a spell back in Ireland with her husband, who also works with the NHS, and their two teenage children.
Maureen will meet up with nurses at the jobs event to talk about the positive work-life balance, stunning natural surroundings and career development opportunities available across North Wales.
She said: “We found we missed the NHS quite quickly. In terms of development and approach to healthcare, Ireland seemed to be about 15 years behind North Wales, so we decided to move back to the mainland.
“Here in North Wales we have terrific scenery and walks and an outdoor lifestyle. It’s also so easy to go back and forth to Ireland, and affordable too.
“For the recruitment fair, I think my return flight is costing £11 so it can be extremely cheap!
“Manchester and Liverpool airports are only an hour away and Holyhead too, for the boat, and where we are now is much more like living in Ireland for the quality of life.
“Ireland will always be home, but we’ve no plans to go back now – we’re settled here,” she added.
Leading the team heading to Dublin on April 23, armed with posters, DVDs, fliers and a passion for North Wales, will be BCUHB workforce modernisation manager Angela Johnson.
She said: “We’re taking a mixed team of clinicians and planning to promote North Wales as well as the health board itself as an exciting and innovative place to work.
“There is such a lot going on at the moment, with a lot of investment and changes, new technologies and things evolving all the time.
“It’s also such a friendly organisation and a fantastic place to live and work. We tend to find that once people do make the move and come here, they stay.
“Finding the right place to work and a career that provides a positive work-life balance is what most of our job seekers and career movers are looking for.
“We promote the great outdoors on our doorstep, with mountains, lakes and sea, while being close to cities such as Chester, Liverpool and Manchester.
“As a health board we also encourage innovations in the workplace, which is important for health professionals, and also personal development.”
Angela, who lives in Rhyl, said: “When we went to the jobs fair in Dublin last year we had 120 people register an interest in coming to work with us, many of whom went on to do so.
“We currently have 200 nursing vacancies to fill across all our hospital sites in North Wales, and if we came back having recruited for 20 per cent of that it would be brilliant.
“In Ireland they have more qualified nurses than they have positions currently, so it’s a win-win situation really, but we’re not just looking at Ireland.
“We brought over 65 nurses from Spain last year and we’ve got recruitment fairs in Manchester and Glasgow over the summer too.”
Also encouraging her fellow medics to head to North Wales is Roisin Norton, a 28-year-old community physiotherapist from Dublin who has now been based in North Wales for two years.
She said: “It’s so easy living here to connect with home. I go back four or five times a year and the boat only takes an hour and half.
“My parents love coming over here too and there are a lot of similarities. As soon as I came here I thought it felt a lot like Ireland, especially as it’s quite rural, and the people are very similar.
“It’s got such a lot going for it – the outdoor lifestyle and having Snowdonia so handy – but also the easy links with Chester and Liverpool.”
Now expecting her first baby in July, Roisin has no plans to return to Ireland, saying she is settled in North Wales and enjoying serving the communities of Conwy and Denbighshire for BCUHB as a senior physiotherapist.