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Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland Denies Health Concerns Amid Recruitment Ban

Dublin: Deputy Prime Minister Micheal Martin has dismissed concerns raised by health workers, organisations, and opposition members regarding staffing issues in the healthcare sector. Addressing Parliament, Martin highlighted the significant presence of foreign nurses in Ireland, noting that the country ranks second in Europe for the number of foreign nurses employed.

Opposition and Health Workers’ Concerns

Sinn Féin spokesperson Pearse Doherty criticised the current recruitment ban, citing instances where interviewees were told they could not be hired due to the freeze. Doherty emphasised that, five months into the year, the government has yet to approve the 2024 workforce plan. He referenced a survey by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which found that 70 percent of nurses are concerned about patient safety due to staff shortages and that a majority are considering leaving their jobs. However, Martin dismissed these concerns.

Martin downplayed the problems attributed to the recruitment ban. While acknowledging a temporary halt in recruitment, he stressed that Ireland has made significant strides in hiring healthcare professionals. Since May 2023, 3,068 healthcare workers have been recruited, and there are 28,500 more staff members compared to 2020. He also mentioned an additional €7.5 billion allocated to the health service over the past four years, resulting in the employment of 4,200 healthcare professionals and more than 3,000 doctors and dentists.

Budget and Spending in the Health Sector

Martin noted that in the first four months of the current year, healthcare spending exceeded the budget by €500 million, with 75 percent of the excess occurring in the acute hospital sector. He used these figures to argue against the claims of understaffing and insufficient resources.

Despite the concerns raised by health workers and the opposition, Deputy Prime Minister Micheal Martin maintains that the government’s efforts in recruiting and funding the health sector are adequate. He continues to emphasise the significant number of healthcare professionals recruited and the substantial financial investments made in recent years.

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