Sunday 15 September 2019

Up to 35 nurses unable to work over Christmas period due to work permit backlog

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Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Up to 35 nurses at one of Ireland's busiest hospitals will be unable to work over the Christmas period due to a backlog in processing work permits.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) says these "vital" nurses work in the high-dependency and cardiology units in the Mater Hospital in Dublin and are awaiting crucial documents from the Department of Business.

An INMO spokesperson said it wrote to the department on December 6 in a bid to expedite the administrative process but to no avail.

Albert Murphy, the INMO’s Industrial Relations Officer for the Mater said: "These vital workers are stuck in a visa limbo. It is deeply unfair to put them in this position, especially so close to Christmas. They work hard to care for patients and deserve the certainty that they will still have jobs to go to.

"There’s a huge shortage of nurses in Ireland, yet it appears that we may be locking out highly skilled staff due to a bureaucratic backlog. The Department of Health spend millions on agency nurses and overseas recruitment every week, yet the Department of Business is forcing qualified nurses out.

"It seems the government’s left hand doesn’t know what the right one is doing. Simon Harris needs to pick up the phone to Heather Humphreys and get this mess sorted out urgently. Nurses and patients deserve better."

Trade union SIPTU is calling on the government to intervene and process the required documentation for non-EU nursing staff.

"It is particularly troubling that staff who have come to Ireland to help keep the health service going throughout the Christmas period have been told that they cannot work due to administrative delays,” SIPTU's John McCamley said.

"During the winter months our health services can be pushed to the brink, so to remove nursing staff from critical areas because of backlogs seems like an unnecessary self-inflicted wound."

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