Investigation into Filipino nursing exams

IRELAND’S nursing regulatory body is to monitor an investigation by Philippine health authorities into allegations of cheating in nursing exams.

An Bord Altranais will monitor the outcome of an investigation which has rocked the Asian country. It is thought up to 5,500 nurses out of the 100,000 plus registered in Ireland are Filipinos.

In the last fortnight concern was raised after 17,000 nurses’ qualifications in the Asian country were frozen. The move followed 17 individuals investigated for co-ordinating cheating in nursing exams, with links to three nurse training companies in Manila, the country’s capital. Ireland is one of the top six countries in the world that employs Filipino nurses.

An Bord Altranais’ chief education officer Anne Marie Ryan yesterday said: “We will be monitoring the situation and writing to the regulatory body in the Philippines and will be looking for a response. But we don’t think we need to be concerned at the moment.”

The regulatory body said strict measures were in place here to monitor foreign nurses even after they arrive in Ireland. This included exceeding levels of work as well as approvals by senior health staff before entering wards.

It has also emerged diplomats are planning a public campaign to reassure the public and health authorities about nurses, because of the exam cheating scandal in the Philippines. The Irish Nurses Organisation (INO) made contact with Filipino consul John Ferris last week.

Mr Ferris yesterday said: “We were made aware of this. The batches of nurses though obviously have not been to Ireland. It’s impacting on nurses’ image here though. We have to do a campaign to assure people of what happened, so they know what the facts are.”

Complaints in the Philippines centre on investigations against officers with three companies — RA Gapuz Review Centre, Inress Review Centre and Pentagon Review Specialists — of violating a law against rigging licensure exams.

A case involving 20 witnesses, including students who photocopied the questions, has been filed by the Filipino justice authorities.

The alleged cheating occurred during exams in June this year, attended by 42,000 people. Questions now remain over the 17,000 who passed the test and they will likely be required to sit exams again.

The INO’s director of social policy Clare Treacy said an active interest will be maintained in the case.

“We have spoken to Filipino nurses here about this and they don’t seem too phased. It appears confined to graduates of this year, who are not working here.

“Obviously though if there is evidence it occurred before then, there would be a concern,” she said.

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