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'Your country needs you': Harris launches massive recruitment drive for doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff

The number of cases of Covid-19 could hit 15,000 within the next few weeks, according to the government.

Health Minister Simon Harris
Health Minister Simon Harris
Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Updated Mar 17th 2020, 2:35 PM

A MASSIVE RECRUITMENT drive is set to get under way today across the Irish health service, as it gears up to deal with the expected substantial rise in cases of Covid-19 across the country.

Speaking this afternoon, Minister for Health Simon Harris said that every newly graduated doctor will be offered an internship, with well over 1,000 people looking for one this year.

He added to this a nurses recruitment call throughout Ireland with the message “your country needs you”.

Click here if you’re interested in finding more information about the recruitment drive.

It comes as the government yesterday warned that it expects a 30% increase in the number of coronavirus confirmed in Ireland every day.

The Taoiseach said that 15,000 virus cases were expected here by the end of the month, but that most wouldn’t need treatment. He also warned of the threat to the economy and said there could be up to 100,000 jobs lost in the coming weeks. 

It came just prior to the Department of Health confirming 54 new cases of the virus in Ireland last night, with a total of 223 people now diagnosed here. 

As part of the government’s efforts to tackle the crisis, a huge recruitment drive across the health service is to get under way today according to Health Minister Simon Harris.

“We will hire everybody that we can to work in the Irish health service,” he said at yesterday’s press conference, appealing to retired healthcare professionals and students to apply.

He made a special plea to Irish healthcare workers abroad, to those working part-time and to medical students, saying “we need you”. 

Harris later told RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live Show: “A huge amount of work is being prepared.

Anyone who has a qualification and wants to work in the Irish health service will get a job… Your country needs you. 

The plan will see the redeployment and secondment of existing healthcare workers to the frontline Covid-19 response, including increasing hours for part-time staff and overtime.

Harris said that contact was being made with private hospitals to increase capacity in the health system, as well as the government ordering the opening of more ICU beds.

He said that these efforts to bolster the health service won’t be enough on its own to help stem the tide.

“We can do certain things,” Harris said. “But we need you – the citizen – to comply with this and help us out. We need to do more.”

He said it was possible that 3,000 people ill with the virus could need hospital treatment by the end of the month and added: “Everything that can be done is being done. 

We’re doing everything we can to expand the health service. The only limit will be physical availability not resources.

On retired healthcare workers who were being asked to return to work who may be potentially at risk from the virus, the minister said the HSE will have to assess an upper age limit for people. 

Harris also said they were examining childcare provisions for healthcare workers.

He said there will be proposals on structured child care by the end of the week. 

With reporting from Christina Finn

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