Tuesday, 28 February 2006

Ceisteanna (133, 134)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

162 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if there is still a shortage of midwives in the maternity hospitals; and the steps which have been taken to address this shortfall and to encourage qualified midwives back into practising their profession. [7685/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health)

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

163 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the options a person (details supplied) in Dublin 20, has to access a period of adaptation in midwifery followed by a period of adaptation in general nursing. [7686/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

In response to the Deputy's question the only options available to a person wishing to access a period of adaptation in midwifery followed by a period of adaptation in general nursing are those which must be in compliance with the requirements of An Bord Altranais. An Bord Altranais is the regulatory body for the nursing and midwifery profession in Ireland. In order to work as a registered nurse or midwife in Ireland an individual will need to apply to An Bord Altranais for entry to the register of nurses and midwives maintained by the board. Registration with the board is also needed in order to qualify for a working visa or work authorisation or work permit. In certain cases the board may require a nurse or midwife to undertake a period of adaptation in an approved placement site prior to granting that nurse or midwife full registration with the board. It must be emphasised that unless the nurse or midwife meets this requirement they will not obtain full registration with the board and will not be eligible to work as a nurse or midwife in the health service.

The Nurses Act 1985 together with the European Union directives ensures a fair and transparent processing of applications from candidates holding EU nursing and midwifery qualifications. The assessment of applications for candidates holding non-EU qualifications requires a comprehensive evaluation to ensure the suitability of the applicant to have his or her name registered in a division of the register maintained by An Bord Altranais. An Bord Altranais maintains seven separate divisions of the register as follows: registered general nurse, RGN, registered midwife, RM, registered nurse intellectual disability, RNID, registered nurse tutor, RNT, registered psychiatric nurse, RPN, registered public health nurse, RPHN, and registered children's nurse, RCN.

Applicants wishing to have their names entered on two or more divisions of the register are required to have met the education and training requirements and to have completed a post-registration course that meets the requirements for nurse registration education programmes post-registration as set out in An Bord Altranais's "Requirements and Standards for Nurse Registration Education Programmes". The post-basic programme must have a balance of theoretical and clinical instruction commensurate with the requirements of An Bord Altranais.

If a second registration is dependent on a primary registration, the applicant must apply for primary registration at the same time as applying for the secondary registration. An applicant may wish to apply to register on a division of the register such as the registered general nurse division, but may have received education and training leading to registration in that speciality secondary to a primary qualification such as a registered midwife qualification. In this case the applicant is required to apply for registration in the division in which the primary registration was obtained, in this case the registered midwife division, as well as the division in which he or she obtained secondary registration such as the registered general nurse division.

When An Bord Altranais has received and duly verified all required documents, an officer in the education department of the board undertakes an evaluation of the application for registration. Each application is evaluated on an individual basis.

Following evaluation of an application for registration an applicant may be required to undertake a period of adaptation. A period of adaptation is a period of supervised practice possibly being accompanied by further education and training. An applicant undergoing a period of adaptation will have his or her name entered on a candidate register maintained by An Bord Altranais. A nurse undergoing a period of adaptation is referred to as a candidate nurse or midwife.

A candidate nurse or midwife who has an offer of employment with the Health Service Executive, a voluntary hospital, a private hospital or a private nursing home and is required by An Bord Altranais to undertake a period of adaptation will have his or her placement arranged by the relevant agencies. However, a candidate who is required by the board to undertake a period of adaptation and assessment and who has not been offered a contract of employment in the public, voluntary or private health sector in Ireland, will need to arrange his or her own placement by contacting the directors of nursing or midwifery directly in adaptation placement sites approved by An Bord Altranais. It is important to note that it may be difficult to obtain a placement without an offer of employment as health service providers are obliged in the first instance to provide periods of adaptation to those nurses and midwives they have made offers of employment to and also to other health employers, for example, a private nursing home, in their catchment areas.