Varadkar told to 'take control' of nursing crisis
Private nursing homes, which are having to turn residents away due to a shortage of around 1,500 nurses, are to deliver a strongly worded letter to Health Minister Leo Varadkar today asking him to urgently "take control" of the escalating problem.
The letter, signed by 208 private and voluntary nursing homes, said the problem of recruitment and retention of nurses was exacerbated by the registration delays faced by nurses who wanted to take up jobs here. Some are waiting more than a year to secure registration.
Tadhg Daly of Nursing Homes Ireland said: "We have been highlighting this with the Department of Health for two years and it is now an urgent requirement that the minister takes control of the crisis. It has led to a backlog of 2,316 nurses waiting official registration to be allowed work here.
"He needs to ensure the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) gets resources to clear this backlog."
Mr Daly said the shortage of nurses means nursing homes are having to close beds - at a time when hospital overcrowding is getting worse.
He was speaking after the Nurse Retention Crisis National Conference in Dublin heard nursing home managers are making recruitment decisions based on "desperation".
Paul Chandler, managing director of PCQ Nurse Recruitment, said they are having to take on nurses from abroad who are qualified but who may not have experience in caring for the elderly. He said retention is a major issue and, for every 100 nurses hired, another 100 are leaving.
In response, the department said a new helpline is being set up to assist nurses in making applications as 70pc have "incomplete documentation".
It said it has approved 16 posts at the NMBI and seven of these positions have now been filled. Seven adaptation programmes have been held for the nursing home sector since 2014, with two more this year, to allow overseas nurses to register in Ireland. Some 405 places have been made available so far on these courses. The department said it was unfortunate that only 312 of these places were used by the nursing home sector.