Uncertainty over consequences of Brexit for Irish cross-border nurses

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Confusion hangs over the registration status of nurses who work on both sides of the Northern Ireland-Republic border.

The media suggested this week that Brexit requires individual nurses who work in both countries to obtain dual registration. One newspaper even claimed that nurses from Northern Ireland could be arrested for doing their jobs across the border.

“Given the feasibility of the deadlines worked on, no negative impact is anticipated”

Northern Ireland Department of Health

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland share some health services, including pediatric cardiology services, some adult cardiac services and some cancer services, and a small number of clinicians work on both sides of the border.

the Belfast Telegraph reported the claims of a medical professional that “any doctor or nurse who crosses the border with children but does not have a double registration by the end of this month could be arrested if they work at the south of the border”.

During this time, the BBC The Northern Ireland website said more than 100 doctors and nurses “must now be registered” in the two countries due to their work on both sides of the border.

“This is because the flexibility that was granted by EU law after Brexit is coming to an end,” said the BBC indicated report.

However, nursing regulators in the UK and the Republic of Ireland have said Nursing schedules that nothing had changed. Nurses working in both countries have always had to be double-registered, they said.

But Northern Ireland’s Department of Health said Brexit was a new factor: “Due to the end of the EU transition period, the flexibility provided for ‘temporary and casual work’ under of the EU Directive is no longer available”.

He said more than 70 nurses are expected to be dual-registered by the end of March to work south of the border.

“The number of health professionals affected is low,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health. “Currently around 37 doctors are dual registered with the Medical Council of Ireland (MCI), around 74 nurses with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland).”

“The RCN is seeking urgent clarification from the Department of Health on the process, responsibility and impact of this on nursing staff and patient care”

NCR Northern Ireland

The spokesperson said the Department of Health had worked “closely and positively” with Republic partners, including the NMBI. “Given the feasibility of the timelines, no negative impact is anticipated,” the spokesperson said.

They added that in the future, the registration process may change: “There is a wide range of cross-border contact with regard to the provision of health care and education. Both departments are exploring how best to meet current and future health care record needs to meet the needs of those who provide and receive care.

A spokesperson for the Republic of Ireland’s Department of Health confirmed that nurses involved in cross-border transfers and island-wide work need dual registration, but did not say whether anything had changed because of Brexit.

However, they added: ‘Where a doctor or nurse/midwife still needs time to register to provide healthcare services in the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland provide all necessary assistance to facilitate this.

“The Ministry of Health is not aware that this requirement will impact the provision of health services across the island and there are no cross-border service disruptions and none are contemplated.”

A spokesperson for the Royal College of Nursing in Northern Ireland said Nursing schedules that Brexit was the reason staff needed to double up and said they were looking for more information.

“The deadline for dual registration of nurses working in cross-border and all-Ireland health services is the end of March 2021,” they added.

“The RCN is seeking urgent clarification from the Department of Health on the process, responsibility and impact of this on nursing staff and patient care.”

However, nursing regulators in the UK and the Republic of Ireland said nothing had changed.

Edward Welsh, NMC’s Senior Director for Northern Ireland, said: ‘The Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland are of the view that Irish and UK nurses wishing to provide cross-border care should apply for registration standing with both regulators.

“We believe this is vitally important to upholding our shared mission to protect the public.”

Both regulators continue to accept EU nursing credentials, he added.

“Longer term, we are working closely with the board to explore a range of other options once the UK government’s business as usual policy comes to an end,” Mr Welsh said.

Similarly, an NMBI spokesperson said: “The requirement to hold dual registration in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has always been in place for nurses wishing to practice in both jurisdictions.

“Nursing and midwifery are regulated professions and regulations are in place to ensure patient safety.

“Any nurse/midwife wishing to practice the professions of the Republic must be registered with the NMBI.”

Since January 1, 2021, around 70 registered nurses and midwives from the UK have registered in Ireland, which represents a slight decrease compared to the same period last year, the spokesperson said.

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