Simon Harris: Response to HSE recruitment call 'would warm your heart'

More than 30,000 people have responded to a massive recruitment drive across Ireland’s health service to tackle Covid-19.

Simon Harris: Response to HSE recruitment call 'would warm your heart'

By Evelyn Ring and Eoin English

At a time of great difficulty, “it would warm your heart” to see the number of people coming forward to help, said Health Minister Simon Harris.

More than 30,000 people have responded to a massive recruitment drive across Ireland’s health service to tackle Covid-19.

The “Be on call for Ireland” campaign was launched on Tuesday to seek help from healthcare professionals who are not already working in the public health service.

The recruitment call came with the message: “Your country needs you.” It began after the Government warned on Monday that it expects a 30% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Ireland every day.

Mr Harris said the HSE is prioritising people with clinical skills. He said they were overwhelmed by the response by professionals to the recruitment drive.

“At a time of great difficulty, it would warm your heart to see how people are responding, and we need people to continue to do this,” Mr Harris said on RTÉ radio.

The HSE is also looking for people who have administration skills and would be able to help with contact tracing to come forward.

Mr Harris said the HSE told him there was a role for everybody and some could work remotely.

We may well need people checking in remotely on some of our older citizens who are more vulnerable and helping them with advice over the phone.

Mr Harris also confirmed that those who came forward to work in the health service would be paid.

In many cases, people would be offered full-time permanent jobs because more doctors and nurses were needed. Others would be offered contracts of at least three months duration.

“We’re open for business and the only constraint will be the availability of people and not finances,” he said.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) said there were a possible 20,000 individuals currently on their register who could present themselves for work immediately.

“These individuals should present themselves directly through the HSE website,” said NMBI chief executive Sheila McClelland.

NMBI has a register of more than 77,000 nurses and midwives. Some 42,000 are currently employed by the HSE. An additional 15,000 are working in the healthcare system but outside the HSE.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry said student nurses who go into Cork University Hospital and other Cork hospitals next week for six week’s training should be paid.

Cork University Hospital
Cork University Hospital

More than 100 third-year nursing students from University College Cork will go into hospitals but will only receive a training allowance.

“Not all superheroes wear capes – but not all superheroes get paid either, it would seem,” said Mr Barry.

It is understood that some students will have to give up their part-time jobs for the duration of the placements.

Responding, UCC said it was making it optional for first, second, and third-year students to continue or cease their placements because of Covid-19

The university assured students that they would not be disadvantaged academically and opportunities would be offered later in the programme to complete a clinical placement.

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