Private nursing home operators have warned the Government that older people will be placed in danger if the HSE is allowed to "poach" their staff after public service recruitment restrictions were lifted in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter to Minister for Health Simon Harris, Nursing Homes Ireland urged the Government to lift curbs on the recruitment of healthcare assistants from outside the EU.
“The severe shortage of healthcare assistants already presenting within our sector will be exacerbated in the weeks and possible months ahead because of the workforce issues that will arise because of Covid-19,” said the organisation, which represents the private and voluntary nursing home sector.
“An immediate lifting of the restrictions is an imperative necessity.”
The organisation also proposed that the HSE should initially appoint candidates coming from outside Ireland from the recruitment panels currently in force, "as otherwise it will just denude another part of the health service at this challenging time".
It said “such international candidates should ideally be from countries with a strong ability to manage the virus or less impacted by it”.
Nursing Homes Ireland chief executive Tadhg Daly said in the letter to the Minster: "The potential recruitment of staff from our sector will be to the severe detriment of people in nursing home care who present with severe underlying health conditions.
“It will threaten the capacity of nursing homes to meet their care needs during a period of a health emergency and will present as a move that will endanger older people.”
The letter from Nursing Homes Ireland was also sent to the chief executive of the HSE, Paul Reid, and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.
Last week Nursing Homes Ireland said visiting restrictions had been introduced in more than 400 private and voluntary nursing homes across the country as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.