Landspítali Needs 200 Additional Nurses

Vala Hafstað

“There is a severe shortage of nurses,” states Sigríður Gunnarsdóttir, managing director of nursing at Landspítali National University Hospital. “[The shortage] has existed for a long time, and it looks like it will continue to be that way.

The shortening of the work week, agreed upon in the latest labor contracts, has not improved the situation. Sigríður states that Landspítali needs about 200 additional nurses. Due to the lack of nurses, it is impossible for the hospital to increase the number of hospital beds in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular in intensive care.

“For decades, we’ve pointed out the shortage of nurses,” states Guðbjörg Pálsdóttir, who heads the Association of Icelandic Nurses. “We don’t manage to educate many enough nurses to work in the Icelandic healthcare system, nor do we manage to keep nurses employed in the healthcare system. At present, one out of four, or one out of five nurses quits working as a nurse within five years of graduation. We’re unable as well to bring back those who have quit,” she laments. She describes the workload as very demanding.

Last year, there were 1,340 full-time equivalents for nurses and midwives at Landspítali for the nearly 1,600 nurses and midwives employed. Nurses have been hired from abroad, and at present, more than 100 nurses with a foreign background work at the hospital, almost 70 of whom are from the Philippines.

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