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Dr Michael Harty has warned Covid-19 restrictions will worsen overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick. Photograph by John Kelly

Five healthcare workers hired in Mid-West from national recruitment

ONLY five healthcare workers were hired in the Mid-West following a national recruitment appeal during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, new figures have revealed.

According to statistics obtained by Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly, only five healthcare staff were taken on through ‘Be On Call for Ireland’ in the region.

They also show that just 185 health and social care workers have been hired through this scheme across the State out of 73,000 applicants.

Deputy O’Reilly described the paltry recruitment of healthcare workers as “baffling”.

“It beggars belief that with tens of thousands of health staff applying to work through ‘Be On Call for Ireland’ and in the face of an international healthcare crisis, that recruitment through the initiative has been so low,” she said.

Dr Michael Harty said the recruitment of highly skilled qualified nurses, doctors and allied health professionals to permanent positions has been very patchy.

The Kilmihil-based GP said several medics who assumed they would be offered long term positions at the start of the pandemic are now working for agencies in short term contracts with no long term security.

He pointed a lot of medical people who answered the call for Ireland weren’t utilised because the expected surge in Covid-19 cases didn’t materialise, which has left a very sour taste because they quickly discovered there were very few long term positions available.

He said doctors and nurses who had given up very good jobs in other countries now have nowhere to go because of travel restrictions.

“The volume of work for medics will grow in the winter and, particularly if there is a second wave of Covid-19 when there will be a need for extra staff.

“The HSE should take the long term picture of health needs. There is a huge volume of unmet health needs, which was there before Covid-19. Doctors and nurses who came back from abroad could be used to cut waiting lists,” he said.

At the time of project launch, the HSE noted the widest possible cohort of potential applicants was invited to apply to meet unprecedented healthcare demands when Ireland was facing a similar situation to Spain and Italy.

While the number of applications for the ‘Be on Ireland on Call’ initiative was approximately 73,000, the HSE pointed out more than 44,000 of these were either administrative, support and volunteers.

“The HSE targeted its efforts to provide health services and therefore many of the essential support non- healthcare services were provided through Volunteer Ireland and other well established networks such as the GAA. The 15,000 volunteer applicants were redirected towards Volunteer Ireland.”

Of the remaining 29,000, the HSE stated more than 10,000 were already working in the health services. 1,000 were not registered with the relevant body and therefore could not work. A further 3,000 were undergraduates and over 1,000 withdrew. This left a residual number of approximately 14,500.

It is the 14,500 that were used as the relevant pool. Of this 14,500 it was identified that approximately 8,000 applicants were relevant to the service needs at that time.

Of these applicants, more than 7,000 engaged with the interview process and following this approximately 2,000 indicated they were available to work and had the qualifications/ experience in the relevant areas the services needed and 170 have started new roles.

Dan Danaher

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