Paperwork hitch for 2,000 foreign nurses
The number of overseas nurses cleared to work in Ireland has stepped up, but almost 2,000 are still entangled in the application process, it has been revealed.
So far this year, 669 nurses and midwives have been registered by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) to take up work in health services which are desperately in need of staff. This compares with 386 for the same period last year.
"It includes 460 EU and non-EU registrations so far in 2016, which also represents a significantly faster monthly rate of overseas registration when compared to 2015. In addition, 473 applicants have been issued with decision letters setting out what they must do to progress to the final stage of registration," said a NMBI spokesman.
However, he said some 1,910 overseas nurses' applications had not progressed to assessment stage because they had not provided all the necessary paperwork.
Since the beginning of March, the regulator has put a deadline of six months for completion of applications, down from the year nurses were previously given.
Last year the regulator, which had a huge backlog of applicants, came under criticism and was given more staff.
Nurses can now track their applications online.
Commenting on the figures, chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland Tadhg Daly acknowledged the progress, but he said the pace at which nurses recruited abroad were allowed work here was still too slow.
Several nursing homes here are facing a staffing crisis and Mr Daly wants the nursing regulator to get more involved in contacting the 14,000 qualified nurses here who are on the "inactive" register.
The qualified nurses should be made more aware of the job opportunities available to them which would ultimately encourage them to resume nursing and relieve some of the recruitment headaches facing employers in the sector, he said.