More than 2,200 nurses caught in 'red tape' delays
The backlog of nurses whose registration is delayed, preventing them from working in hospitals and nursing homes, has escalated above 2,200.
Nursing Homes Ireland said the delay in securing badly needed nurses was creating a crisis in the service.
Chief executive Tadhg Daly said that, at the end of February, 2,218 nurses were still awaiting the green light for permission to work here due to red tape at the Nursing and Midwifery Board (NMBI) of Ireland, which regulates the profession.
"Last November, Minister Leo Varadkar said he approved the filling of 16 posts within the NMBI, with nine being assigned to work in the registration department. Incredulously, the backlog has only escalated," said Mr Daly.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said it sanctioned the filling of 21 posts since July 2015 in the NMBI.
"The department continues to have regular meetings with the NMBI where the action plan, which has been put in place to address delays in registration, is discussed," he said.
A new website to allow for more online processing of applications has been available since January. He said a meeting had been arranged by the department with stakeholders.
But Mr Daly said: "It is a disgrace that this crisis has been allowed to persist.
"Irish society is faced with a shortfall of suitably qualified nurses yet candidates with a willingness to work within our health services are faced with exceptionally prolonged and exaggerated delays in the processing of their applications."