Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (656)

Colm Burke

Question:

656. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health if he will request the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland to reduce the €350 registration fee for retired nurses who wish to assist in the vaccination programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7931/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The issue of waiving of fees for nurses, midwives and other health and social care registrants was raised early in 2020 in the context of removing any barrier to encouraging previous registrants, e.g. retired professionals, to return to the workforce to help with the response to COVID-19. At that time, emergency legislation was introduced which amended all the regulatory acts to provide for a COVID-19 specific register to which no fees would be attached. The Act provided that the COVID-19 registration would end on 31 July 2020, but that this could be extended by means of Ministerial order. Orders were made in July, 2020 extending the temporary registrations to 31 December 2020, and again in December further extending to 30 June 2021 the temporary registration provisions relating to medical practitioners, pharmacists and CORU registrants.

Given that nursing and midwifery registration is based on a calendar year, an Order was not needed in July extending these to end December 2020, but rather the Irish Nursing and Midwifery Board (NMBI) was able to deal with such registrations ( including any new applications ) under its existing legislation. This continues to be the position and I can confirm that retired nurses who wish to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic response , including the vaccination programme, can avail of temporary restoration to the NMBI register free of charge. The NMBI has informed my Department that it is currently working with the HSE and other employers to facilitate speedy restoration in these cases. As part of this, the NMBI is currently updating the registration system MyNMBI so that, from Monday 1 March 2021, fees will be waived automatically upon restoration. In addition, the NMBI is also now making arrangements to refund fees paid by some registrants who may not have been aware of the availability of free temporary restoration for purposes of assisting with the COVID-19 pandemic response. Those wishing to restore on MyNMBI and who need support with the process can contact the NMBI directly at IEReg@nmbi.ie.

Finally, to clarify the general position applying to restoration to the Register. It is open to a nurse or midwife to apply at any time to be removed from the Register of the NMBI , for example on retirement. This is categorised as a voluntary removal and such registrants who later wish to be restored need only to pay the annual renewal fee of €100 , which is the same amount as all other current registrants. Those registrants who have been removed from the register following non-payment of the renewal fee of €100, and who later wish to be restored, incur an additional administration charge of €250 in addition to the annual fee of €100.