Nursing has become a more specialised field, brought about by the growth and establishment of specialist hospitals. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: Nearly 2,000 more nurses, midwives and allied health professionals are expected to be hired over the next year for positions in public health-care facilities, health officials said in the capital on Wednesday.

The new recruits will help the emirate’s public health-care provider, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha), meet international nurse-to-patient ratios, said Aisha Al Mahri, allied health group director at Seha Nursing, told Gulf News.

“The demand for health care is continuing to grow in Abu Dhabi, and one of our strategic goals includes keeping up with international nurse-to-patient ratios. We have already hired 1,000 new nurses, midwives and allied health professionals over the last year, and we aim to employ the rest by 2018,” Al Mahri said.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the sixth Seha International Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Conference in the capital, which saw the attendance of 1,250 officials and professionals from the health sector.

According to details revealed at the conference, the Seha network currently includes 13 hospitals, 41 primary care centres, two blood banks, 11 preventive medicine centres, three mobile clinics and a school health-care centre. The facilities boast 7,000 nurses and midwives, and 2,000 allied health professionals like dietitians, technicians and radiologists.

International standards on nurse-to-patient ratios depend on the field of care. For instance, there should be one purse per critical patient for critical care, and one nurse for every two children, Dr Al Mahri said.

But apart from the nurse-to-patient ratio targets, the need for more medical professionals in Seha has arisen from the fact that skills and requirements among nurses are also shifting.

“In the past, nurses would work across departments to serve patients. Now, however, nursing has become a more specialised field, brought about by the growth and establishment of specialist hospitals. For example, Abu Dhabi has a number of hospitals specialised in providing maternity care, and others that prioritise trauma services or cardiovascular care. These facilities need nurses who are themselves adept at providing specialised care,” she said.

According to the official, the biggest need for specialist nurses is within the fields of critical care, surgery, emergency medicine, renal care, midwifery and mental health. To that end, the health-care provider already has eight training programmes to help both new and experienced nurses develop these new skills.

Emirati nurses

At the same time, Seha is looking at recruiting more Emirati professionals in nursing and allied health. At present, it has only 124 Emirati female nurses, and only one male Emirati nurse.

“In order to recruit more Emiratis, we are working at changing perceptions about nursing, and highlighting that nurses too can expect career growth, leadership positions and recognition,” Al Mahri said.

A new award has therefore been launched some of the best nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals.

“We will set up the nomination and selection process, and expect to recognise the first batch of accomplished professionals in a year’s time,” said Safa Al Mustafa, chief nursing officer at Al Mafraq Hospital.