Coronavirus: HSE seeks to hire all available healthcare workers

Simon Harris says there will be no financial constraints on major recuitment campaign

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the only constraint to the HSE recruitment campaign will be the availability of people. Photograph:  Alan Betson

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the only constraint to the HSE recruitment campaign will be the availability of people. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The HSE has said it is planning to take on as many doctors, nurses and healthcare staff as it can as part of a massive recruitment drive to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

The HSE said on Tuesday that it wanted to establish pools of doctors, nurses, therapists and other grades in the expectation of widescale demand for health services in the weeks ahead.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris said there would be no financial limits on the recruitment programme.

“The only constraint will be the availability of people”.

“The health service can hire everybody and anybody who is suitably qualified to work in the Irish public system”, Mr Harris said.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the health service was looking for qualified healthcare workers including medical, nursing and therapy personnel as well as healthcare assistants as part of a the recruitment campaign.

He said he hoped to see a “massive number”of applications under the recruitment scheme.

He said such staff would be needed to support the health service in the weeks ahead.

Retired staff

Mr Reid said the HSE had already proactively reached out to personnel who had retired in the last four or five years.

“Because of their experience and skill sets, we are very anxious to have them available to us”

However Mr Reid said the new campaign would be wider and more general than just seeking those who had retired from the health service in recent years.

Mr Harris said there may be other healthcare professionals who currently were working in a part-time basis who might consider moving to a full-time role.

“We can help them with that”, the Minister said.

Mr Harris suggested that student nurses or students in other disciplines may apply even if they could not work as fully-fledged nurses. He said there were other roles in the health service that they could take up.

“We need all hands on deck. This is a call for healthcare professionals to come help their country,” he said.

Mr Reid said healthcare staff who were interested in taking up roles should register on the HSE website.

He said this process was not too detailed and should take about five minutes to complete. He said applicants should set out their career details and their skill sets.

However he urged applicants “to bear with us in this process”.

“We cannot define right now the skills that we will need. We know we will certainly need some clinical and nursing personnel.

“We would like to move on that very quickly.

“We do not know the full range of skills that we will need as we do not know the extent of what element of the [existing] workforce that will get sick.”

The Minister said anybody who applied under the recruitment programme would be contacted and interviewed over the phone.

Carers

Meanwhile, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) has appealed for people within the hospitality and retail sectors to look for opportunities to provide care to older people during the pandemic.

The representative body said the coronavirus outbreak will result in increased staffing needs. Some of the roles that will become available on a temporary basis include nurses, physiotherapists, healthcare assistants, catering, activities organisers, and ancillary or administrative support, the group said.

Tadhg Daly, chief executive of NHI, said a nursing home has to meet “all the care needs of people who require specialised and highly dependent services on a round-the-clock basis”.

“One considerable concern is to ensure a staffing complement is consistently available to meet the day-to-day social care needs of nursing home residents, especially at a time of emergency and with visitor restrictions,” he said.

“Irish people have a tremendous ability to support one another during difficult times and this has never been more required.”

NHI called on people who feel they can “contribute to care of older people” to submit a CV to them, outlining their skillset and qualifications.