Up to 35 nurses in the Mater University Hospital in Dublin have been told they cannot work over the coming weeks due to a backlog in processing work permits.
Some of the affected staff members have been working for a number of years in the health service, according to SIPTU.
The trade union is calling on the Government to intervene and expedite processing the required documentation for non-EU nursing staff.
SIPTU's John McCamley said: “SIPTU representatives are calling on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris and the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), Heather Humphreys to intervene in order to expedite the processing of DBEI documentation for non-EU nursing staff working in the Mater hospital.
“It is particularly troubling that staff who have come to Ireland to help keep the health service going throughout the Christmas period have been told that they cannot work due to administrative delays.”
“During the winter months our health services can be pushed to the brink, so to remove nursing staff from critical areas because of backlogs seems like an unnecessary self-inflicted wound.”
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation have responded to the news saying that the timing of this so close to Christmas makes this situation all the more serious.
Albert Murphy, the INMO’s Industrial Relations Officer for the Mater said: “These vital workers are stuck in a visa limbo. It is deeply unfair to put them in this position, especially so close to Christmas. They work hard to care for patients and deserve the certainty that they will still have jobs to go to.
“There’s a huge shortage of nurses in Ireland, yet it appears that we may be locking out highly skilled staff due to a bureaucratic backlog. The Department of Health spend millions on agency nurses and overseas recruitment every week, yet the Department of Business is forcing qualified nurses out.
He added: “It seems the government’s left hand doesn’t know what the right one is doing. Simon Harris needs to pick up the phone to Heather Humphreys and get this mess sorted out urgently. Nurses and patients deserve better.”