Backlog of 1,980 nurses caught in red tape, despite A&E trolley crisis
More than 1,900 nurses who want to register to work in hospitals and other health facilities are still caught up in red tape, despite the ongoing overcrowding in emergency departments.
Beaumont Hospital in Dublin had to divert some patients to Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda on Thursday night after 41 patients, many of them elderly, were stranded on trolleys.
Overcrowding eased yesterday but 27 patients were still on trolleys in Beaumont in the afternoon with 314 in emergency departments nationally.
Some 113 beds in hospitals across the country are closed until the end of next month due to refurbishment and infection control.
There is still a backlog of 1,980 nurses who want to register to work here with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.
The regulator previously blamed lack of staff for delays. Health Minister Leo Varadkar told the Dáil this week it has nine more staff to help speed up the process.
However, Tadhg Daly, of Nursing Homes Ireland, said private nursing homes, desperate for nurses in order to accept more suitable patients from hospitals, are still frustrated by delays in getting the green light for nurses awaiting registration. He said: "We were promised that the nursing regulator would get 16 staff.
"But so far just nine have been provided.
"While there is a call centre now in place at last to allow nurses to at least find out where their application stands, it is still not good enough.
"Many homes have recruited nurses abroad but they cannot work here until their application is processed."
Around 1,348 of the applications have documentation outstanding, 81 have been approved and registration fee is awaited and 168 are awaiting review.
A spokeswoman for Beaumont Hospital said yesterday it was seeing a rise in older patients with complex illnesses coming to the A&E.
"Over 60 people are expected to be discharged today. Recruitment of specialist nurses is a recognised challenge internationally.
"Beaumont Hospital is actively working on a recruitment campaign with a number of large academic teaching hospitals in Dublin," she said.
"This campaign is primarily targeted at recruiting specialist nurses, including emergency department nurses.
The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said 39 patients were on trolleys in Beaumont yesterday morning - an occupancy rate of 200pc.
Meanwhile, as of October 20, there were 542 hospital beds across the country still occupied by patients who no longer need acute care.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said the number was down 35 from the previous week's total of 577 and 176 fewer than the 753 monthly average for last January.
The 542 comprises 395 patients needing long-term nursing care, 70 who are due to return home and 77 others who have other needs.
The process of opening beds is under way, beginning with 14 beds in Merlin Park in Galway. and the eight-bed clinical decision unit and four-bay surgical assessment unit which have opened at Drogheda.