Fórsa says additional resources for health professionals, social care services and supports to frontline staff will be needed to make a success of the HSE’s new winter plan, which was launched earlier this month.
The union says it supports the plans aimed to increase community health capacity and reduce demand on hospital services to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and make progress on a central pillar of the Sláintecare programme.
But its head of health, Éamonn Donnelly, said it would fail without a “structured and defined funding model” to invest in community services, underpin supports to frontline staff in hospitals and community settings, and increase the recruitment of health and social care professionals (HSCPs).
“This must start with a concentrated effort to get HSCPs currently redeployed to swabbing and testing duties back to their substantive posts without delay. Fórsa has been pressing this point at every opportunity for some time now,” he said.
It has emerged that more than half the HSCPs allotted to swabbing and testing are now back in substantive roles, and it’s anticipated that many more will be back in place shortly. The HSE confirmed to Fórsa this week that it was to recruit community swabbers for direct employment to aid the coordinated return of HSCPs and others.
Éamonn said he had told the HSE that this will require early and meaningful consultation with Fórsa, as the current agreement only relates to nine learning sites.
It also envisages substantial investment in hospital and community rehabilitation capacity and more support for home care packages and GP services.
He said the union was set to meet the HSE on this and other issues related to the plan, which also promises more acute and non-acute hospital beds – including a 30% rise in intensive care capacity to deal with Covid-19.