Hundreds of health staff re-register to fight Coronavirus

Hundreds of health staff re-register to fight Coronavirus
View of the Mater Hospital in Dublin as the coronavirus pandemic continues to place a strain on the health service. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

With Additional reporting from Kevin O'Neill

More than 600 healthcare workers have been restored to the national register in the last week to join the response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Some 500 nurses and more than 120 doctors have been added to the register in the wake of a national recruitment drive.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) insists that there is no delay in registration, despite a handful of complaints that some nurses returning from overseas were told they could be waiting up to 90 days for their registration to be completed.

One woman, whose daughter qualified as a nurse in Scotland before travelling to Australia to work, said her daughter was told that registration could take 90 days when she returned to join Ireland’s health service.

But the NMBI, which has statutory responsibility for registering and regulating nursing and midwifery, said the turnaround process for nurses with the required paperwork is around five days.

An NMBI spokesperson said they have registered more than 500 nurses and midwives in the last week, but there is a small number of applicants whose credentials and qualifications require additional assessment, and these are being processed.

“Protecting the public is at the core of our registration system, and is at the heart of what we do.

"We are currently balancing the urgent requirement for more frontline healthcare workers with the ongoing need to protect the public by upholding the highest nursing and midwifery standards in Ireland.”

Meanwhile, the Medical Council has re-registered 121 doctors, in addition to doctors who are returning to practice or returning home to Ireland but who had remained on the Medical Council Register.

New figures issued by the Medical Council reveal that some 55% of the registrations are returning to Ireland, and the remaining 45% are retired doctors re-joining the register.

The Medical Council will also begin to register more than 1,000 new medical interns in the coming weeks once final-year students complete their exams.

Dr Hilary Coyle, originally from Galway, left life in Perth, Australia to come back to Ireland to work in the health service here.

She told RTÉ’s News at One: “We wanted to help out our colleagues on the frontline.

"I know it is expected to get really bad here in the next few weeks, and I think it would be really, really good to have a fresh cohort of doctors to alleviate some of the stresses on our colleagues that have been working here for weeks on end.”

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