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Recruitment freeze may prevent expansion of inclusion health service

By David Lynch - 04th Dec 2023

Recruitment freeze

The HSE recruitment embargo poses a serious risk to the extension of the inclusion health service across the country, the Medical Independent (MI) has been informed.

Dr Clíona Ní Cheallaigh, Consultant in General Medicine and Infectious Diseases and member of the inclusion health programme at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, said she is “very concerned” about the pause on new appointments.

Dr Ní Cheallaigh was speaking last month during the Policy Forum for Ireland online conference, ‘Next steps for Sláintecare reform,’ which was held on 14 November.

“With the new [inclusion health] services that are supposed to be rolled out nationally, we are very concerned that the recruitment freeze may mean those services may not be able to get up and running,” she said in reply to a question from MI.

She added that in her service in St James’s Hospital, “we are lacking a key NCHD, an SHO as part of our team, which means that when one of our team is off on roster leave, we’re very impaired in the care that we can provide.”

Dr Ní Cheallaigh spoke at the conference about the inclusion health service and the care it provides to patients affected by social exclusion, including those who experience homelessness. She described the multi-disciplinary service provided in St James’s and outlined that this approach is being “expanded with temporary funding to Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Tallaght”.

Dr Ní Cheallaigh told MI that there have been changes in the patient cohort in recent years due to the housing crisis. She noted more older people are becoming homeless. She also said some Ukrainian refugees who may not find accommodation in the “mainstream accommodation service… are also becoming homeless with very complex medical needs”.

During her address, Dr Ní Cheallaigh said that the inclusion heath service would benefit from an integrated information technology system and “sustained and clear plans for funding”.

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