Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher has said that the HSE’s capacity issues could be improved by a targeted reaching out to European medical and nursing professionals working in the UK’s NHS.

“The fact of the matter is clear: the HSE has a severe shortage of doctors and nurses working in our hospitals and in our communities.

“Whether we like it or not, the UK is leaving the EU and there are thousands of health professionals working there that are fearful for their futures.

“There are approximately 135,000 EU nationals working in the UK’s NHS. While not everyone would consider moving to Ireland, there are potentially enough doctors and nurses willing to move that could have a dramatic impact on our capacity shortages in our hospitals.

“Many of these professionals may not have the right to stay working there post Brexit, and there may be some who chose not to stay working in a non-EU country.

“For those who do not want to return to their home countries, Ireland is an ideal alternative.

“As an English speaking nation, with competitive remuneration packages for health professionals, the HSE and the Department of Health should be reaching out to those currently working in the NHS and starting a conversation with them about coming to work in the HSE.

“One would hope that the Minister, his Departmental officials and the HSE’s HR team would be already looking into this.

“Additionally, today’s CAO offers have shown a 5% drop in the number of people applying for a place on a nursing course.

“With domestic supply set to drop as a result, the HSE must start looking elsewhere, and the UK, with a hard Brexit on the cards, should be explored.

“Equally, the HSE must be in a position to stop the NHS attempting to poach our medical and nursing professionals. Even now, we are losing too many of our graduates to the UK.

“The HSE owes it to the people to find the extra capacity needed to address the chronic waiting lists in the hospital system, and this, as I have been saying for months, means employing more doctors and nurses,” concluded Kelleher.