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Irine Korniichuk from The Ukraine attending the anti-war rally in the Fair Green. Picture: Arthur Ellis.

HSE outlines plans to deal with influx of refugees

PLANS are being put in place by the HSE to deal with the huge influx of Ukrainian refugees that have arrived and are expected to continue coming into Ireland over the coming weeks in the wake of the Russian invasion.

Galway councillor Evelyn Parsons has asked the HSE West what preparations it is making to receive, treat and provide medical services for the expected arrival of Ukrainian refugees.

With reports that between 20,000 and 150,000 Ukrainian people, mainly women and children may come to Ireland, Councillor Parsons requested an update from HSE officials at a recent HSE West Forum meeting concerning what additional resources are being made available to deal with the health needs of this huge influx of people.

The Independent Councillor raised questions about Covid-19 vaccinations; psychological services and translation services and whether any facilities were being put in place to hire qualified Ukrainian medical people to work in the Irish health service.

The HSE has stated that people arriving in Ireland from Ukraine can get support from the Irish State. This includes a place to stay, financial support in the form of social welfare, the right to work, and healthcare services.

They will also be able to apply to the HSE for a medical card, which will be required to get some healthcare services free of charge in Ireland.

Ukrainians will be able to get care from family doctors, nurses, community care services, hospital or emergency services, children’s health services, mental health, disability, pregnancy and older people services.

The HSE is making arrangements for these services to be provided.

It has pledged to update its national website with information on how to apply for services. This will be available in English, Ukrainian and Russian.

Tony Canavan, CEO, Saolta University Health Care Group stated it is estimated that between 80,000 to 100,000 Ukrainians will arrive in Ireland as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Mr Canavan confirmed a whole-of-Government approach is underway to support Ukrainians arriving into Ireland.

As EU citizens, they will be granted temporary protection in Ireland and will be able to access a range of state supports including a medical card to facilitate access to health services.

The HSE has established an oversight group to oversee all of the work of the HSE in relation to the war in Ukraine including efforts to send much needed equipment and medicines.

Within Integrated Operations, a National Planning and Coordination Group has been established to ensure a robust and integrated response across community and acute services.

There are two components to the HSE planning approach currently underway; the immediate actions required to address health and social care needs of people currently arriving; and the preparations for a more significant volume of people arriving into Ireland from Ukraine in the coming weeks.

The Coordination Group is also working to optimise communication channels with International Protection Accommodation Services/Department of Children and the Department of Justice regarding the demographics and locations of Ukrainians entering the country.

Community Healthcare West Breda Crehan-Roche said the HSE is working with local authorities, who are the lead authority, to provide accommodation for about 5,000 Ukrainian refugees. She said there is a number of services on standby to deal with the health requirements of Ukrainian refugees.

The HSE has also updated www.hse.ie/Ukraine with information available in Ukrainian and Russian on accessing health services.

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