Covid-19 has had a profound effect on all our lives over the past few months. As we move through the phases of exiting lockdown, our attention is focusing more and more on the long-term effects the pandemic will leave behind. One thing I do hope for is that the outpouring of public appreciation and respect for our country’s frontline healthcare staff will not be forgotten quickly.
Through social media, health workers have collaborated across the board on a scale never seen before. Unfortunately, this was often about sourcing desperately needed supplies of ventilators and personal protective equipment for staff. We are all used to hearing about the trolley crisis and staff shortages, but this allowed us, the general public, to see the human faces behind the problems in a way we never had before. We were also introduced to many of the others who form the backbone of our health service from household staff to direct care workers.
Professor Arnie Hill of the Royal College of Surgeons raised the idea that our recent insight and exposure to the industry has greatly expanded people’s interest in healthcare as a career path. Health has moved to the forefront of global consciousness, with Tony Holohon and Tadhg Daly becoming household names and terms such as basic reproduction rate becoming part of our everyday vocabulary. Is it a reasonable assumption that we will see a greater interest in health-related courses over the coming years?
Next generation of student nurses
The last couple of months have been particularly challenging for our students especially those who had been due to sit the Leaving Cert. They were one of the groups most affected by the virus with the lack of clarity for months before the final decision to use predicted grades. H-Pat applications were of course closed in January before Covid came to prominence however nursing and other medical fields may see an uptake in demand for September. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation renewed its calls for extra undergraduate nursing places to avoid even more severe staffing pressures in the future. The INMO has also said it is likely there will be a drop in overseas recruitment because of the coronavirus pandemic resulting in extra pressures on nurses and midwives in the years ahead.
April’s announcement that fourth-year nursing students who are currently working as interns in hospitals are set to move onto the HCA pay scale was most welcome. Many observers believe the pay cuts which had been implemented in various formats since 2009 had contributed to the surge in nurses qualifying and moving abroad and to the difficulty in recruiting nurses to work in Ireland. This has in-turn contributed to understaffing and overcrowding in our hospitals and pressure on our nursing homes.
As we celebrate National Carers Week from June 8th, it is both sobering and inspiring to hear the tales and struggles of Ireland’s home and family carers who are notable frontline healthcare staff. It emphasizes the depth, breadth and diversity of roles which make up our “healthcare frontline”. With an expected increase in investment in healthcare globally over the next few years, it seems that it will become ever more challenging for the state and private employers to attract and retain the right people.
Brian Nixon leads the permanent recruitment division of Excel Healthcare and specializes in the recruitment of Nurses and other senior roles within healthcare. To discuss recruitment and how we can help, please call 018717676 or email firstname.lastname@example.org