Hundreds of nursing homes will today demand that Health Minister Leo Varadkar take control of the nurse registration crisis.
Nursing Home Ireland chief executive Tadhg Daly said some nursing homes were having to close beds at a time when more than 2,300 nurses were waiting up to a year to be registered by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.
Nursing Home Ireland representatives will hand deliver a letter to Mr Varadkar that has been signed by 208 private and voluntary nursing homes who want him to take urgent action.
“Despite the NMBI informing the Oireachtas health committee in July that it was making progress in processing applications, 300 additional candidates have been added to the application list over the past two months,” Mr Daly said.
PCQ Nurse Recruitment managing director Paul Chandler said there is a shortage of well over 1,000 nurses in the elderly care sector and a similar number in the acute sector.
“The nursing shortage filters into the acute hospital sector because elderly people cannot get out of hospital because there is nowhere for them to go,” he said.
Mr Chandler told the Nurse Retention Crisis National Conference in Dublin yesterday that because of the shortage, some employers in the elderly care sector are making recruitment decisions based on “desperation”.
They are choosing to recruit nurses who do not have a specific interest in elderly care, meaning the nurses are moving on quickly to a job in the acute sector.
The HSE has recruited around 500 nurses since the start of the year and a new recruitment campaign started recently.
Mr Chandler said some of the nurses being recruited by the HSE were coming from the elderly care sector.
He said the number of nurses interested in coming to Ireland has increased dramatically in recent years, but the nurses’ regulatory authority did not make arrangements to deal with the applications in a timely manner.
“What was a three-month process has drifted into a 12-month one. It only takes three months for a nurse to be registered in Britain and most nurses are going there now because of the delay in dealing with applications here.”
Mr Chandler said the NMBI could eliminate the nurse recruitment crisis immediately if all of the applications were processed this year, but there would still be a staffing problem because some of the nurses would be unsuitable candidates and many would not have jobs.
“It would definitely take us out of the crisis 100% but it would not eliminate the problem. We would have to keep on working on it.”
The Department of Health admitted yesterday that there were “significant delays” in the processing of applications by the NMBI. However, it also pointed out that there had been a significant increase in applications, which have risen by 122% this year.
However, 70% of the applications could not be processed because incomplete documentation had been supplied.
It said a new helpline is being set up to assist people with their applications and deal with registration queries. Sixteen posts in the NMBI have been approved and seven have been filled. An upgraded website is being developed as well.
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