More than 4,000 overseas doctors and nurses are seeking to work in Ireland but are unable to do so because of delays in processing their applications.
The growing backlog is highlighted in new figures from the Medical Council, which show that 1,850 doctors who qualified outside the EU are stuck at various stage of the application process.
Another 177 applications from doctors who qualified in the rest of the EU are currently being assessed, but just 19 applications from Irish-qualified doctors are awaiting assessment.
Meanwhile, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland is currently handling 1,977 overseas applications, which includes both EU and non-EU cases.
It says three-quarters of these applications from overseas nurses cannot progress because the documentation submitted is incomplete.
The growing backlog of applications is contributing to staffing shortages in many hospitals and is causing growing concern among consultants who say they cannot fill posts even when qualified staff have been located.