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Don’t sell… HSE properties should provide accommodation for health workers

Dublin: There are plans underway to repurpose HSE’s weekend properties to address the housing needs of emergency health service workers. As the elderly population in Ireland continues to increase, there has been no proportional growth in the number of healthcare workers, resulting in heavy reliance on professionals from abroad. This includes nurses, care assistants, social care workers, and doctors. Unfortunately, the housing crisis in densely populated urban areas is hindering the recruitment and retention of foreign health workers, as they either struggle with high rents or opt to leave the country, with a significant portion of their income allocated to housing expenses.

The Overseas Health and Home Care Workers Group Ireland is advocating for the establishment of cooperative housing societies for healthcare workers, proposing that the vacant HSE properties be transformed into accommodation for these essential workers instead of being sold.

The HSE currently holds a portfolio of 214 properties that have remained vacant for an extended period. Of these, 47 buildings, with a combined value of €9.8 million, are currently listed for sale. The HSE has disclosed that 74 of the total vacant properties are intended for sale. Notably, St. Finan’s Hospital in Killarney, encompassing 10,600 sq m of land and closed since September 2012, is the most expensive property on the market at €2.6 million. Other properties include Trader House in Wicklow (€1.2 million), the HSE Building in Patrick Street, Dublin (€850,000), Dingle Community Hospital (€550,000), and Delgany Health Centre in Wicklow (€385,000). Cork alone has 19 properties listed on the HSE’s weekend properties for sale.

The Overseas Health and Home Care Workers Group Ireland emphasizes the need for a shift in approach, urging the creation of co-operative housing societies and proposing that these vacant properties be repurposed to provide essential housing for healthcare workers. The HSE’s decision to sell a significant number of these properties has raised concerns, and there is a growing call for a more strategic allocation of these resources to address the pressing housing needs of healthcare professionals.

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