Topical Issue Debate – Delays in nursing registration

PaulConnaughton-2-150x150

This Government is fully committed to job creation and ironing out the red tape that prevents employers from taking on staff, yet at the moment there are 300 vacancies in the private sector of nursing homes across Ireland largely due to the delays experienced in registering nurses with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.

 

This issue has been raised with me on a number of occasions, particularly by nursing home owners in county Galway, who struggle to replace nurses when they leave. At the moment, there are nursing home beds in county Galway that are closed awaiting the registration of nurses.

 

Of course, this delay in registering nurses has a knock-on effect all along the line, closed nursing home beds increase the difficulty in discharging patients from an acute setting, which in turn puts pressure on our A&Es.

 

Because of the lack of registered nurses in the country, many nursing home owners have to use recruitment agencies or engage themselves in directly recruiting nurses in an international setting. This places a huge burden of cost on the nursing home owners and they then have the difficulty of getting those nurses registered.

 

At the moment, the waiting time is listed as 90 days and I believe that up to 700 applications are currently with the Nursing Board awaiting processing. Should any query be raised, and queries are commonly raised in respect of foreign registered nurses, then the matter goes back to the back of the list and it could be another 90 days, or six months in total, before the nurse is registered.

 

The nursing home owners that I spoke to stated that it is very unusual for foreign-registered nurses to have registrations successfully concluded within 90 days. Six months is too long for any business to have to wait for such registration.

 

I know that the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland will cite lack of resources in relation to the registration process and I also note that their attempt to increase the nurse registration fee by 50% failed.  However, the current impasse must be addressed and the delays experienced both by the nurses and the nursing home owners must be dealt with.

 

We need rigorous procedures in terms of the registration of nurses and I am not suggesting in any way that those procedures should be relaxed, However, what we do need is faster turnaround times for registration and if that requires additional resources, then they must be found. 300 jobs which are currently vacant can be filled and the additional taxes which will result could be used to offset any additional resources that are needed.

 

 

 

The current lack of available nurses in Ireland is resulting in ever-increasing recruitment and retention costs for nursing homes across the country, but nursing homes in rural Ireland are at a particular disadvantage as the assumption is that they have lower costs, which is reflected in the much lower fees that they are allowed by the National Treatment Purchase Fund. For many nursing homes in rural Ireland, their fees have remained static for the past five years, at a time when this crisis in nurse recruitment means greatly increased costs in recruiting nurses and ever-increasing salary packages to retain qualified registered nurses.

 

This government has adopted a common sense approach to job creation to date and I believe that addressing the current delays being experienced in terms of nurse registration is a sensible approach which would allow the filling of 300 jobs which are currently vacant and remove one bottleneck in our health system.

 

I would be glad to hear the Minister’s response on this issue.