The state enrolled nurse, SEN, qualification is a United Kingdom qualification which is not recognised in this country. The qualification was awarded following successful completion of a two year training programme. This programme, which is no longer provided in the UK, did not meet the minimum theoretical and clinical instruction requirements as set out in the relevant EU directives on nurse education programmes.
Persons who have obtained the SEN qualification must undertake a nursing conversion programme in the United Kingdom in order to qualify for registration as a nurse in Ireland. Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide such a programme here because the rules of the UK regulatory authority for nursing only allow for a maximum of 10% of the clinical component of the programme to take place outside the United Kingdom.
I introduced a special initiative in February 2001 to assist state enrolled nurses undertaking nursing conversion programmes in the United Kingdom. Under this initiative any SEN working in the Irish health service who wishes to undertake such a programme is entitled to receive a non means-tested grant of €7,618 towards the costs involved in attending the programme in the United Kingdom. Payment of the grant is subject to the person in question giving a written undertaking that s/he will work as a nurse in the Irish health service following registration with An Bord Altranais. Some 110 SENs have benefited from the initiative to date.