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Changes to Employment Permits ignores care needs of older people in the community

18th December 2019: Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) and Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI) today accused the Government of turning their back on the care needs of older people in the community. Both organisations have, on a long-standing basis, advanced to the Department of Health a requirement for the role of healthcare assistant to be removed from the Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permits List on a controlled basis. Both expressed strong disappointment at the exclusion of healthcare assistants from today’s announcement of changes to the employment permits system.

Within its Budget 2020 submission, NHI estimated over 800 healthcare assistant roles are vacant across the private and voluntary nursing home sector. HCCI has moderately projected over the next ten years the home care sector will need to recruit and retain around 18,000 carers to keep pace with projected demand.

Joseph Musgrave, HCCI CEO states:

HCCI and NHI members are feeling the effects of a staffing crisis day after day. As we are now deep in the Winter period, it’s a bit galling to see the HSE 2020 National Service Plan trumpeted to great fanfare but the tools to deliver it once again being denied to providers.

As Tadhg Daly rightly points out, we need to get serious about our commitment to community services. That means this Government putting in place policies to support those services. Instead, we have this decision to not change the employment permits system – despite the evidence – and it’s deeply regrettable.

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO states:

This Government speaks of moving care provision into the community but lamentably the actions simply do not follow. NHI and HCCI members are working on the ground providing essential healthcare services within our communities. We’re not just witnessing a shortfall but a severe deficiency in the number of healthcare assistants required to meet people’s care needs across Ireland. Only last month, Minister for Health Simon Harris informed our annual conference he recognised services can’t be provided by nursing homes because of staffing issues that were also presenting for the HSE. He stated the work permits issue requires addressing and he was engaged with Minister Humphreys “to look at how we can have a better work permit system for people to work in the nursing home sector”. Have his representations been ignored?

“Previous to his address, the Minister went on record to state a shortage of homecare staff is resulting in non-delivery of healthcare services. And we have the Minister for Older People stating the biggest challenge faced in delivering homecare services is not funding but a staffing shortfall. Furthermore, the HSE communicated with the Department of Health in January to inform a shortfall of healthcare assistance was presenting across older person services. So while our Government publishes reports projecting thousands of additional healthcare assistants to be required in the coming years, it flagrantly ignores the reality that these staff are needed to deliver critical healthcare in our communities immediately. This decision flies in the face of the evidence across our health sector regarding shortage of healthcare assistants and it ignores the very serious implications for our health and social care system.”


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