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The figures include 807 overseas registrations so far in 2016, which also represents a significantly faster monthly rate of overseas registration when compared to 2015. In addition, 952 applicants have been issued with decision letters setting out what they must do to progress to the final stage of registration.
Through various process improvements and investment by the Department of Health, the NMBI said it is working to manage the large increase in overseas applications to bring new nurses and midwives into the Irish health system as quickly as possible without compromising standards.
However, incomplete applications remain an ongoing challenge for the NMBI.
Separately, the board of the NMBI, at its meeting on 24 May, decided to remove the names of 1,960 nurses and midwives for non-payment of their annual retention fee (ARF). The final number of removals totalled 1,903, as the NMBI took into account all those nurses and midwives who paid their ARF up to 12 midnight on 24 May. Once removed from the Register, it is an offence to practice nursing/midwifery. A total of 510 restorations have been received and processed to date.
Meanwhile, vacancies in nursing positions at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, continue to be a challenge, this newspaper has been told.
The issue was raised at hospital board meetings earlier this year, with a particular focus in the area of surgery.
Hospital board members were informed that “nursing vacancies in theatres and critical care continue to be challenging” at the January meeting of the hospital board, minutes of which have been seen by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request.
However, the minutes also noted that there had been “some improvement in recruitment of theatre and critical care nurses, but they will require adaptation”.
MI has been told that this month will see a number of new nursing staff begin working in St James’s in both the operating theatre department and general ICU.
“The operating theatre department has 20 permanent vacant positions, however, five nurses will commence employment in July,” a hospital spokesperson told MI.
“The general ICU currently has five vacant permanent vacant positions, however, four nurses will commence employment in July.”
In May this year, the INMO warned there was “now a major problem with recruitment and retention of adequate nurses to maintain hospital services throughout the country”.