Three hospitals from the Flemish city of Genk are planning to bring over nurses from India as part of a pilot project to tackle nursing staff shortages in the region.
On Friday, the Flemish newspaper Het Belang van Limburg reported that the East-Limburg Hospital (ZOL) was behind the project, which will see them collaborate with UZ Leuven and the Noorderhart Hospital in the nearby municipality of Pelt.
As a result, around 40 nurses from the Indian region of Kerala will be trained at these three hospitals to then become nurses in the Belgian province of Limburg.
For ZOL Director-General Erwin Bormans, "labour migration is part of the solution" to reduce the burden on the Flemish healthcare sector which currently has 2,400 vacant nursing positions in the region. To that end, Zorgnet-Icuro (the umbrella organisation for Flemish health centres) has called for the relevant procedures to be simplified.
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Zorgnet-Icuro CEO Margot Cloet has stated that the biggest obstacle is the recognition of foreign diplomas. Currently, a foreign nurse "can only apply for the recognition of their diploma with a prior commitment by a Belgian diploma."
However, employers require the diplomas to be recognised before offering nurses a contract, which can take up to four months. To this end, Zorgnet-Icuro has asked for the procedure time to be shortened, as had been done for Ukrainian nurses.