Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has said that the HSE is facing a severe acute sector workforce crisis post-Covid.
This follows reports from the INMO and the IHCA on deficiencies in the workforce and the impact of the pandemic on workers’ mental health.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The health service was facing a workforce crisis before the pandemic, with thousands of vacant consultant, nursing, and allied health and social care posts across the service.
“Waiting lists are nearing a million people, and the capacity has not been put in to bring this down.
“Workers are burned out after an extremely difficult year – more than 60% of nurses, for example, have considered leaving the HSE due to the impact on their mental wellbeing.
“There are more than 700 consultant posts which are either vacant or filled on a temporary basis.
“Similar data is not centrally collated for nursing and other posts by the HSE which makes the scale of the problem difficult to capture.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, not only will waiting lists need to be caught up on, but there will likely be a new surge in demand for mental health services.
“Acute mental health services are severely underfunded – 30% of psychiatrist consultant posts are either vacant or temporarily filled, and we have 70% less than the European average of acute mental health beds.
“The health service is overworked, underfunded and does not have the workforce or physical capacity to keep up with waiting lists.
“The HSE is facing a severe acute sector crisis in the coming months and will not be able to catch up without significant investment in workforce welfare and retention.
“We also need to see serious investment in IT systems for HR and workforce management for real transparency on vacant and temporary posts which are currently hidden from the public.”