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Donnelly in talks on establishing 'hospital-linked' accommodation for migrant nurses

The Health Minister said that he has spoken with hospital management about setting up accommodation for overseas staff in particular.

THE HEALTH MINISTER has said that the HSE is looking into acquiring “hospital-linked” accommodation for overseas healthcare staff and those who are having to travel long distances for work. 

Stephen Donnelly told reporters today that he is speaking with hospital management in Galway and other locations about setting up “bespoke, locally based” accommodation for staff who are recruited to Ireland from overseas in particular. 

The minister pointed to a similar hospital system in the 1970s, when specific accommodation was provided to healthcare staff.

It comes after nurses arriving in Ireland from overseas have faced issues with finding accommodation during their recruitment process. 

The Journal reported last month that 25 migrant nurses recruited by a Dublin hospital were told to leave the temporary accommodation that was supposed to be guaranteed to them for six weeks, just days after their arrival. 

A nurse who left Delhi to come to Ireland to work for the HSE in Cork told The Journal that she was not fully reimbursed for her flight and registration fees, and that she was still owed roughly €1000. She also had to wait for three months to start working here, which left her in a bad financial position. 

Due to difficulties finding housing, her family have been unable to join her, and because of her working hours and the time difference, she rarely gets to call her five- and two-year-old children. 

Talks on ‘hospital linked’ accommodation 

Speaking to press at the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation’s (INMO) annual conference in Killarney today, the Minister said that a plan for “hospital-linked” accommodation could potentially feature in the next budget. 

He said that he spoke with management in Dublin’s Mater Hospital last week, and that they are currently “looking at various properties in Dublin close to the hospital that they could either buy and retrofit, or indeed start to build their own individual blocks”. 

“Individual hospitals are now looking at this. I think that is very positive, the hospitals that are having the most difficulty with getting staff in because of housing are looking to prioritise this,” he added. 

Donnelly said that he is having conversations within the Department of Health, with the HSE and with the estates team within the HSE to see “where we might be able to invest to start creating some of this accommodation”. 

When asked if this initiative is likely to feature in this year’s budget, Donnelly said “there is no reason why it couldn’t, it would come in within the capital plan.”

“It will be up to the HSE and the hospitals to start putting in bids for this kind of accommodation, and that can be looked at as part of our normal estimates process,” the Minister said.

Earlier today Donnelly told INMO nurses that he plans to introduce 400 new undergraduate nursing places by this September. 

Speaking at the union’s annual conference, Donnelly said that all hospitals are now sanctioned to hire additional staff needed in line with the safe staffing framework. 

“Our task now is to hire the more than 800 additional nurses and healthcare assistants we need,” he said, but he did not give a deadline for the recruitment drive. 

Responding to calls from the INMO for the safe staffing framework to be underpinned by legislation, Donnelly said he has discussed the matter with Chief Nurse Rachel Kenna and that it is under “ongoing review”. 

INMO President Karen McGowan told the Minister that over 128,000 patients have been treated on trolleys or chairs while waiting on a bed in hospital.  

“That is absolutely shocking and something that your Government should not be willing to stand over,” she said. 

Yesterday the INMO voted in favour of holding a national ballot on industrial action if sufficient progress is not made on a safe staffing framework that is underpinned by legislation.

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