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19 July 2024

Medical staff in US, Europe seek return to UAE

Many nurses who left the UAE for the US and Europe now want to come back (PATRICK CASTILLO)

By VM Sathish

The rush of doctors, nurses, technicians and other medical professionals to the United States and Europe that led to staff shortages in the UAE hospitals seems to be over as many wish to come back and work here.

Some hospitals in the US are looking for buyers because business is down and they cannot meet their debt obligations and capital requirements. Some are even facing bankruptcy because of lack of buyers.

However, some nurses at the lower end of the pay scale in the UAE are still keen to work in other countries.

"Because of the credit crunch and the impact of the economic crisis on the US and Europe many medical professionals working overseas are coming back to the UAE," Mohammed Aboufares, Chief Strategy Officer at Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, told Emirates Business.

"We are seeing a number of professionals, especially Arab Americans, seeking jobs in our hospitals. About 5,000 people working in hospitals linked to the medical city and professionals from the US and Europe are keen to work in the UAE."

He said the shortage of professionals was a worldwide problem but the situation had been particularly bad in the UAE as many trained staff left the country to take jobs in the West.

"More healthcare professionals are needed to work in the UAE," he added.

Pennie Gomez, Clinical Service Co-ordinator at global solutions provider InterHealth Canada, said: "The economic crisis is having an impact on big hospital groups in the US that have laid off staff and some professionals are trying to find jobs in the UAE.

"An experienced doctor in the US can earn the equivalent of Dh600,000 annually but in the UAE the same doctor would earn Dh400,000 per year. An Indian or Egyptian doctor cannot earn that much in the UAE. A nurse working in the US can earn in the range of Dh165,000 to Dh370,000 per year.

"A Canadian or US nurse working in a higher end hospital in the UAE earns Dh14,000 to Dh15,000 per month, and nurses working at the lower end of the market earn up to Dh5,000 per month," Gomez said.

He said many nurses in the UAE were trying to find better jobs abroad, and there was a move to standardise nurses' salaries in the UAE.

But the economic slowdown in Asia, especially India and the Philippines, could attract more medical staff to the region.

InterHealth Canada manages the trauma centre at Dubai's Rashid Hospital and train professionals at some government hospitals.

Chris Sharrock of Block Imaging International, a New York-based dealer in used X-ray machines and other medical equipment, said he was trying to find buyers for machinery sold by US hospitals.

"Buying a used X-ray machine reduces the cost by 60 per cent," he added.

"We are selling machines that are six months to 15 years old. The financial crisis has caused the closure of some small X-ray and imaging units in the US. We are buying machines from these units or banks that have acquired their assets after the closures."

He said the supply of used medical equipment had increased in the US, and his company was offering GE Innova 2000, Siemens Axiom DFC, GE Revolution, Hitachi 0.3T and Siemens 1.5T MRI machines.

Another New York dealer, Eric Baun of Atlantis Worldwide, said he was trying to find buyers in the UAE.

"Our business is based on trade-ins that we acquire when hospitals replace their old medical equipment with new machines. We buy the old equipment and the hospitals get part of the money needed to buy replacements.

"As banks are not funding new hospital projects in the US the market for used equipment is down. We are exploring partnership with UAE companies because there is a demand for these machines. We are also keen to buy used machines from UAE hospitals when they order new ones. The UAE is a rich market and these machines are replaced from time to time."

The company has an arrangement with General Electric to handle all trade-ins when hospitals buy the manufacturer's latest machines.