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Growing demand Initiative targets Swiss nursing shortage

The initiative text requires that hours and conditions for nursing staff members, who are often women, be better adapted to balancing work and family life.

(Keystone)

Switzerland has some 10,000 fewer nurses than it needs. Supporters of a new initiative hope to encourage more young people to enter the field by improving working conditions and training opportunities.

At a news conference in Bern on Tuesday, the Swiss Association of Nurses called on the Swiss government and cantons to invest in nursing with the goal of improving its status as a profession.

The association has launched an initiative aimed at ameliorating Switzerland’s severe shortage of nurses, both male and female, which is on the order of 10,000 and growing.

The initiative committee can now begin to collect at least 100,000 signatures within 18 months required for a nationwide vote. It aims to anchor in the Swiss constitution the status of nursing “as an important component of care”.

Specifically, it calls for increased autonomy of nurses in the Swiss health care system, and improved options for work-life balance, training, salary, and continuing education.

Over the last five years, only 43% of the nursing personnel needed nationwide have been trained, and according to a report by the by cantonal health directors, the demand is expected to grow another 20% by 2025.

The use of nursing services from neighbouring countries won’t be enough to fill the gap, warned association president Helena Zaugg.

“These countries will also have these staffing needs in the future,” she said.

The only solution, according to the association and the initiative committee, is to reassert the value of the status of nursing in Switzerland, so that young people will be motivated to choose it as a profession.

swissinfo.ch and agencies/cl


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