Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has again called for clarity from the government regarding the ‘Be on Call for Ireland’ database as the situation in hospitals and nursing homes across the country spirals out of control.

Deputy Tóibín said: “Today I have been in contact with Care Champions and with staff in Nursing Homes regarding the situation unfolding in nursing homes across the country. Many people have been contacting me with their serious concerns about their loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes. In some instances it has been said that staff in nursing homes are texting families and locals asking if they can provide assistance to them in feeding and caring for their residents. We have heard that hospitals are again discharging patients into nursing homes without the adequate two negative tests. Some of these patients maybe incubating the virus and spreading it”.

Deputy Tóibín continued: “It is very distressing to receive a text from a nursing home asking you if you can help feed your parent or relative. We’ve had people reach out to us wondering if we can get any update from hospitals on their loved ones who are inpatients. The reality is that hospitals and nursing homes are so short staffed that they are struggling to provide updates to families and loved ones. We learned today that the HSE is recalling thousands of staff who have been deemed ‘close contacts’ to return to work and alleviate the pressure. We are calling for these staff to be Antigen tested so that they do not spread the virus in hospitals. Nursing Homes have told me that there are currently 800 staff missing across 500 nursing homes with over sixty outbreaks in the past few weeks. Vaccinations of nursing homes staff and residents only operated on a five day week last week”.

“Back at the start of the pandemic the Department of Health launched the ‘Be on call for Ireland’ campaign. Over 70,000 people signed up to work on the frontlines, however the data suggests a mere 200 of them were subsequently recruited to work in the health service. I have had calls from people who signed up to this database but were never asked to help. Given the crisis in staffing at this point its incredible that all available medical professionals have not been recruited”.

“I have today asked the Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, to provide an update on the status of that database. Surely with the current crisis in staffing we should be tapping into those names and recruiting them. The first wave of this pandemic proved fatal for many in nursing homes. At the time Aontú called for an investigation so that the government could reflect on the mistakes and learn from them. No such investigation was forthcoming. Now we’re back where we started again. The most vulnerable have been left the most exposed. It is unacceptable. My heart goes out to all healthcare and nursing staff across the country working in the most difficult of circumstances”, concluded Tóibín.