ICN International Workforce Forum calls for urgent action from governments to address global nursing shortage

4 March 2019
lebanon nurses

Geneva, Switzerland; 4 March 2019 – Nursing leaders at the International Council of Nurses (ICN) International Workforce Forum have called on governments to take action to ensure safe staffing levels, decent working conditions and a better future for patients and the nurses who care for them.

The forum in Beirut was designed to inform ICN’s member National Nursing Associations about the development of ICN’s policy and advocacy work.

Howard Catton, CEO of ICN, highlighted how valuable the forum had been for sharing experiences and providing a reality check on the current state of the world’s nursing workforce. “Retention is now a critical issue that needs urgent attention from governments as we risk losing nurses faster than we can train them,” Mr Catton said.

He said it was not just how many nurses are leaving the profession, but that many of those who leave are experts with decades of experience. “These nurses are essential for the delivery of high quality and safe care, but also for teaching, supporting and mentoring the next generations,” Mr Catton said.

“There is no single answer to the problem of nursing shortages, no silver bullet, but as our recent policy brief showed, we need to implant a range of actions to foster positive and supportive working environments, including fair pay, safe staffing, professional and career development, and the absence of violence, bullying and harassment.”

Dr Myrna Abi Abdallah Doumit, President of the Order of Nurses in Lebanon, highlighted that supportive and safe work environment, appropriate financial packages and respect are key to retention. Dr Doumit thanked ICN for encouraging and supporting such forums in different countries which will help in sharing expertise, building on success stories and learning from experiences.

The forum praised the WHO Executive Board and its Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, for proposing that 2020 should be designated as Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Forum members believe it will have a positive impact on the recruitment and retention of nurses worldwide. The Order of Nurses in Lebanon, which hosted the meeting used the occasion of the forum to launch the Nursing Now campaign in their country. The forum’s communique can be found here.

Note for Editors

ICN’s International Workforce Forum is a regular gathering that stimulates thinking and enhances learning to ultimately develop proactive strategies. ICN also runs an Asian Workforce Forum that probes and debates nursing workforce issues and working conditions. The Forums also assist to maintain the relevance of ICN programmes and support international work.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of more than 130 national nurses’ associations representing the millions of nurses worldwide. Operated by nurses and leading nursing internationally, ICN works to ensure quality care for all and sound health policies globally.

For further information please contact

Gyorgy Madarasz, Press Officer, International Council of Nurses, Tel: +41 22 908 01 16