Fórsa trade union has said the HSE must immediately lift all barriers to recruitment for Health & Social Care Professionals (HSCPs) in order to ensure the country’s public health system is adequately prepared for the rapid progress of the Covid-19 virus.
Fórsa trade union’s head of Health & Welfare Éamonn Donnelly said: “We have been working closely with the HSE in a rapidly developing situation, with all of us equally focused on responding to the growing challenge posed by Covid-19 in the most effective way possible.
The full complement of HSCPs in both acute and community care is essential to optimising patient flow through busy hospitals all the way from the emergency department to rehab.
“We have clearly communicated to the HSE that this must include the lifting of recruitment barriers to HSCP staff, whose professional skills will be closely involved in Covid-19 diagnosis and treatment,” he said.
HSCPs include pharmacy staff, dietitians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, cardiology and respiratory specialists.
“The main concern of our HSCP membership is that the needs of patients cannot be met under the current complement of HSCP staff. The full complement of HSCPs in both acute and community care is essential to optimising patient flow through busy hospitals all the way from the emergency department to rehab.
“That includes, for example, physios providing respiratory care, radiographers providing scans and x-rays, medical scientists carrying out more testing or occupational therapists helping to protect vulnerable people in the wider community but also making sure that the range of required skills are adequate to meet the needs of the Covid-19 challenge throughout the system,” he said.
The minister needs to understand any response measures must include a lifting of barriers to HSCP recruitment, these professionals are going to make a substantial difference to the overall health outcomes.
Mr Donnelly responded to Simon Harris, the acting Minister for Health, who this morning praised public service unions for “stepping up to the plate” in the current crisis.
“The minister said that there isn’t a health service in the world that wouldn’t suffer capacity issues from the impact of the virus, and that efforts are being made here to increase capacity.
“He needs to understand such measures must include a lifting of barriers to HSCP recruitment, these professionals are going to make a substantial difference to the overall health outcomes. Now is not the time to leave arbitrary barriers in place when there are qualified professionals that can be hired into our public health system with immediate effect.
“Concern is growing now as the outbreak of Covid-19 potentially puts significant additional pressure on the whole system. If the HSE can lift all barriers on the recruitment of nurses in response to this developing public health crisis, then it must act to lift restrictions on other essential staff,” he said.