President Michael D Higgins has said it will be awful if people forget the heroic efforts of frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic and went back to the way it was before when they were not always fully valued.
The President, who was speaking on International Nurses Day, said everybody has gained hard-won wisdom with regard to the value of frontline workers, such as nurses, and those providing essential services across the economy.
“It would be so regrettable, egregious even, if through some form of collective amnesia, we as a society were ever to disregard your heroic efforts, and revert to where we were before the pandemic – a society that sometimes failed to value you fully,” he said.
When the public health crisis passes, it is vital that the hard-earned wisdom from the coronavirus pandemic is embedded in whatever form of society and economy emerged.
“It will require a cognitive transformation in how we regard the state and public expenditure in areas like health, which have often been presented myopically as a cost, a burden,” he said.
“On this International Nurses' Day as we continue to tackle the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, let us all honour the contribution of the nursing profession, and the women and men who continue to risk their lives and their security to support us, as we slowly emerge from this dark period into one of hope.”
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, warned that Ireland's health service will face even more severe staffing pressures without extra undergraduate nursing places.
Of the 3,700 nurses and midwives added to the register of nursing and midwives last year, 13% had trained elsewhere in the EU while almost half had trained outside the EU.
The INMO said it is likely there will be a drop in overseas recruitment because of the coronavirus pandemic resulting in extra pressures on nurses and midwives in the years ahead.
The number of undergraduate nursing and midwifery places must increase as a matter of urgency to avoid a future staffing crisis, the union has urged.
Nursing Home Ireland chief executive, Tadhg Daly, paid tribute to the specialist nurses who are playing a pivotal role in nursing homes during the public healthcare crisis.
"The State owes a great debt of gratitude to our nurses and their colleagues in nursing home care," said Mr Daly.
Meanwhile, University College Cork's School of Nursing and Midwifery used the day to remotely celebrate the achievements of its students.
The winners of the annual achievement awards were selected based on their exemplary performance in the 2019/2020 academic year.
The Keady Clifford Excellence in Children's Nursing Award was presented to Casey O'Sullivan, a fifth year integrated children's and general nursing student at UCC.
The award, in memory Keady Clifford from Dingle, Co Kerry, who died in a car accident in 2018, recognises exemplary students.
Ms O'Sullivan, who recently started working as a staff nurse in Cork University Hospital, said it is tough at times but what keeps her going is knowing she has contributed positively to someone else's care.