An INMO senior executive has warned that the HSE’s new nursing recruitment drive could face problems if a staffing crisis and backlog of applications can’t be cleared.
The HSE has announced a drive to recruit 500 overseas nurses, including Irish returnees. The HSE lists salaries of between €27,211 and €43,800, waived registration fees with the Nursing & Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) and educational support, as well as a €1,500 expenses tax allowance in its bid to attract overseas nurses to positions in the HSE.
Although INMO deputy general secretary Dave Hughes welcomed the jobs announcement, Edward Mathews, director of social policy, regulation and recruitment at the INMO, warned the HSE’s new campaign will require a “joined-up approach” by the HSE and the NMBI to be successful.
“If Irish nurses are returning, they may be already registered, but if nurses are coming from further afield and they haven’t been registered, there’s little point in them signing a contract if they find they’re waiting six months to a year to register,” Mr Mathews said. “The NMBI need to ensure they have the resources to process the applications.”
Nurses need to register with the NMBI to be eligible to work in Ireland. More than 600 applicants have been waiting over a year to have their applications processed, Mr Mathews said.
The NMBI has received 974 applications this year but over half of these applicants have yet to receive any response. In total, the NMBI currently has a backlog of 2,016 applications, nearly 70% of which are because the applications are incomplete.
In her statement to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children last week, Dr Maura Pidgeon, the CEO of the NMBI, said the backlogs were caused by staffing levels and funding, with revenue being significantly less than expected for 2015. This created “uncertainty and insecurity amongst staff in the organisation”, causing 11 staff to leave in the first half of 2015.
The HSE recruitment drive, launched yesterday, seeks to attract up to 500 overseas nurses to Ireland to fill vacant nursing positions. The HSE has set up a website to promote the staffing call and will pay for sponsored ads on Facebook and Twitter to attract foreign nurses as well as Irish nurses working abroad who may wish to return to Ireland.
The advertising budget for the campaign amounts to €40,000 according to Ian Tegerdine, the HSE’s director of human resources who announced the recruitment drive. “The positions have come about due to retirements but also a number of new developments within the HSE”, Mr Tegerdine said.
Mr Tegerdine said he “hadn’t been alerted” to any issue with regard to registration. “I understand that the backlog relates to applications from other countries,” Mr Tegerdine said. “The process may be simpler for Irish nurses who wish to return to work in Ireland.”
Dr Pidgeon said the Department of Health has authorised additional resources to assist in respect of the backlog “What we now require to clear the current backlog and ensure sustainability into the future is three additional full-time positions and funding for a web based system.”
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