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Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland spends €8.5m on disciplinary hearings - News - Nurses Arena Forum

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Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland spends €8.5m on disciplinary hearings by Idowu Olabode : August 23, 2016, 08:30:58 AM
The regulatory body for the nursing profession has spent more than €8 million taking disciplinary cases against individual nurses over the past five years, new figures show.

Spending on legal fees for fitness-to-practise hearings amounted to €8.5 million between 2011 and 2015, with a further €800,000 spent on other legal fees.



Sinn Féin health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly, who was provided with the figures by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI), accused it of spending millions to “fight nurses in an intimidatory and often hostile environment”.

Spending on legal fees for fitness to practise hearings peaked at €2.5 million in 2014, a year in which 32 inquiries were held over 75 days. Last year the NMBI spent €2.3 million on legal fees on 16 inquiries, which sat for 41 days.

The money largely goes on legal teams – solicitors and barristers – appointed to represent the chief executive of the NMBI, senior counsel acting as legal assessors to the fitness-to-practise committee and separate legal advisors to the NMBI and its board.

Other costs include confirmation applications to the High Court as required under law, judicial reviews and appeals, and stenography.

Excessive


“The excessive reliance on barristers and a legalistic environment is completely unnecessary,” said Ms O’Reilly, who, as an Impact trade union official, assisted nurses facing disciplinary hearings. “The money could be much better spent in other areas of the health service.”

The annual retention fee paid by nurses was increased by the board several times in recent years as spending increased, she pointed out, but this money was being used “against nurses”.

Earlier this year, a report into the NMBI found it was “swamped” by the work from fitness to practise cases.

The report by consultants Crowe Horwath said that while hearings appeared to be well organised, the workload was resource-intensive and very expensive.

The board has to consider cases using two different pieces of legislation, depending on when the incidents under investigation occurred. The report also said the NMBI was failing to discharge many of its statutory responsibilities, was dysfunctional and in need significant reform.

Source : Irish Times

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