'Action is needed on finances of nursing regulator'
Urgent action is needed to address the financial position of the regulatory body overseeing the country's nurses, a new report has warned.
A business case needs to be made to the Department of Health on the financing of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NIMBI), a report by Crowe Horwath consultants said.
It comes as talks began at the Workplace Relations Commission yesterday aimed at averting strike action in emergency departments by nurses in the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) on December 15 .
Earlier this year the NIMBI regulator was the subject of strong attacks by the union's chief Liam Doran and nurses over its decision to increase the annual registration fee for nurses from €100 to €150.
After a strong campaign it remained at €100, despite the regulator warning of the need for additional income.
However, the new report which now recommends a series of wide-ranging changes, said the regulator currently lacks full resources to discharge its responsibilities .
It needs to be able to invest in staff and upgrade its information technology. It has been blamed for delays in registering nurses from abroad who are badly needed to work in healthcare services here.
The report said a senior person to lead the reform is needed over the next two years. This appointment is urgent.
It said the Department of Health should consider the impact of the current fitness- to-practise workload on the governance of the board.
It has an inordinate volume of fitness-to-practise work where nurses are subject to inquiry for alleged misconduct.
The report said the Department should assess whether legislative changes are required to make this process more efficient. "We believed the size of the board at 23 members is unwieldly.
"Best practice within corporate governance would suggest that the optimum size of a board should not exceed ten or twelve members." Some suggest between six and eight.
Meanwhile, the peace talks to avert the strike were described as "constructive" by Dave Hughes of the INMO.
However, he said health officials were left in no doubt as to the seriousness of the situation or the difficult task ahead for the parties if the strike action is to be averted.
The union is planning two-hour stoppages.