Seanad debates

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Commencement Matters

Nursing Staff Recruitment

2:30 pm

Photo of John KellyJohn Kelly (Labour) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister to the House. We have a serious problem within the nursing home sector in retaining and recruiting nursing staff. This has been brought about by the current Health Service Executive, HSE, recruitment plan drive. As we know, nursing homes are central to our health service and in one nursing home last October they had 12 nursing staff. Six of them have now left, two are set to leave and two are due to leave later in the year, leaving the operators in the lurch. In addition, the HSE is looking for two weeks notice from those staff who are employed in the nursing home sector and the operators of the nursing home require four weeks notice. It is leaving them in an impossible position. They cannot recruit locally, and we have the ridiculous situation where it takes over a year if they try to employ an Indian or a Filipino nurse. They must undergo an international language test, even if English is their first language, and in most cases they fail it. On the other side of the coin, one can employ European Union nurses who might have no English, and there is no requirement for them to have it. The only problem is that the Department aims to process their visa applications within 90 days but it takes four months for them to get a PIN. That is a serious anomaly.

We need to consider, first, as a matter of urgency, fast-tracking Indian nurses' visa applications. Second, we need to retain our Irish nurses for at least two years post-registration. Third, Indian nurses have to complete an adaption period, which is normally done in a general hospital, but there is no need for that as it can be done in nursing homes. These Filipino nurses have the same degree as Irish nurses. Why is this six week adaption period necessary?

All of these issues have serious Health Information and Quality Authority, HIQA, implications for nursing home operators, and some may be forced to close unless we can address the shortage of nurses in the system.


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