THE IRISH healthcare system is facing a "tsunami of missed care" due to the demands placed on it by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Oireachtas Committee on Health has heard.
Professor Robert Landers of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association stressed that the backlog of non-Covid-19 patients was mounting and that services were being stretched “to the absolute limit”, RTE News reports.
While the private health service could offer a short-term fix to the backlog, Prof Landers said that – in the long-term – staffing and infrastructure problems in the public system would need to be addressed.
He said that recruitment efforts had not been sufficient to tackle the issue, and that trainees must be kept on once the pandemic ends.
Problems have sprung up across departments, as the General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), Ms Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said staff were having "very real issues" with childcare.
Some were having to improvise and to come up with a "myriad of arrangements" – from paying extra money for childcare, to getting help from friends and family – in order to cope.
Raising the issue with the committee, Ms Ní Sheaghdha said that there was a need discuss adequate pay for student nurses and midwives.
Ms Ní Sheaghda rejected the notion that students were "observing” and said that they were in fact working – and even went as far as to describe the situation "exploitation", according to RTE News.
She said they were “going into the eye of the storm” without being paid.
“Having an unpaid workforce of 1,500 people when you have 6,000 staff out sick: What do you think they’re doing? I don’t accept, and nor do they, that they are standing in a supervisory capacity and not engaged in work,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha said.
She added: “Of course they’re working — and they’re not getting paid.”
Despite the INMO meeting with the Minister for Health yesterday, Ms Ní Sheaghdha said that the situation remained "unchanged".
Addressing the committee, INMO General Secretary Ms Ní Sheaghdha also lamented the “haphazard” vaccine rollout and said it didn’t follow the community presentation of the disease.