BRITAINS'S NHS recruits almost 300 nurses from Ireland annually -- choosing Irish graduates before their own, according to an Irish recruitment agency.
Despite the NHS offering lower salaries, many Irish nursing and social care graduates are forced to move to the UK in order to find work.
The NHS is so keen on Irish nurses that many hospitals will offer Irish students a contract before they've even graduated.
Brian Crowley, CEO of TTM, the Irish medical recruitment agency who recently won a contract to provide nurses to the NHS, said: "In the last eight weeks alone we've recruited 70 nurses for the NHS trusts in the UK."
Out of around 1,600 nursing graduates in Ireland this year, between 250 and 300 will move to the UK for work.
He said that despite budget cuts in the UK, their health service still has a high demand for nurses and Irish graduates are their number one choice.
Mr Crowley revealed that NHS Trusts from Cheshire, Ealing and East Kent have all come here to recruit, Greater Manchester Trust has just signed a contract and there is a queue of four more.
"It's got so competitive" said Mr Crowley, "that many of them are willing to interview the candidates while they're still in their final year so that when they do graduate they'll be able to move straight to the UK.
"They prefer our nurses even to their own graduates. They think we have a better standard. The nursing courses in Ireland have a very good placement programme so in their last year the nurses do a lot of rotations so they are coming technically with experience. So they are that step ahead."
The recruitment chief admitted pay in the UK is lower, but people have no choice as there are not enough jobs here.
"People's motivation to work in the UK, it's not based on salary, it's not based on a better quality of life, in my view. It's just that the jobs are there.
"If people could find jobs here they would stay, but that's just not possible unfortunately."
Nicola Heffernan (23) from Carlow said that after studying in Trinity she will most likely take her skills to the UK.
"I'm looking for jobs in a paediatric setting and there are not that many in Ireland so that's why I am looking to the UK."