Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that it is imperative that frontline healthcare workers, such as dental technicians, physios, and Occupational Therapists, are replaced within the COVID contact tracing system and allowed to return to their frontline posts where they are needed most.

Teachta Crowe was speaking after chairing a meeting of the Oireachtas Health Committee where the HSE admitted that it would be weeks before these workers are replaced given the current level of recruitment.

Teachta Crowe said:

“There are hundreds of frontline healthcare workers across the state seconded to the COVID contact tracing system. While this is very necessary work and needs to be done, I would question why these staff are the ones doing it.

“We are talking about workers such as dental technicians, physios, and Occupational Therapists. They are vitally needed elsewhere right now.

“Early in the pandemic, there was an understandable scramble to get systems up and running. It was all hands on deck and healthcare workers were pulled in from every corner of the health service to do what needed to be done. The summer lull in cases should have been used to replace these workers and allow them to get back to work but this opportunity was wasted.

“Based on the current level of recruitment, it will be Christmas week before frontline staff begin to be phased out of the contract tracing workforce. Given the devastating impact that COVID has had on the state of waiting lists that were already appallingly high, this just isn’t good enough.

“The Government must make a commitment to resource the HSE with everything it needs to get these healthcare workers out of call centres and back on the frontline where we need them most.”