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Colleges' lab staff and medical students to be drafted in to help fight virus

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Health Minister Simon Harris

Health Minister Simon Harris

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Health Minister Simon Harris

Irish universities and colleges are now being recruited by the Government to help in the desperate battle against Covid-19.

Experienced medical staff and laboratory technicians are crucial as Ireland's healthcare system battles to contain the spread of the virus.

Now, all Irish universities, colleges and institutes - which have effectively shut down because of the Covid-19 situation - are being asked to make available any experienced teaching personnel who can help in the battle against the virus.

Specifically, the Government and the Health Service Executive are hoping that experienced healthcare staff and laboratory technicians will make their services available on a short-term basis while third-level institutions are closed or devoted to online studies.

Many had worked for years in the healthcare and science testing industries before moving into teaching roles in third level. One college, Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), said it would support any of its staff which wanted to volunteer to help in the battle against Covid-19.

Epidemic

"CIT has had requests for suitably qualified laboratory and other health staff," a spokesperson confirmed.

"We are advising staff that they may volunteer for such duty and that we will support them in terms of pay, human resources, etc."

Other Irish colleges and universities have followed suit.

Experienced healthcare staff are being sought as part of the drive to ease the workload on frontline doctors and nurses.

The Government hopes that such personnel in medical teaching facilities will be available over the next two to three months when the virus epidemic is expected to peak.

It is hoped that many could assume second-line duties so that acute hospital staff can focus on Covid-19 patients.

However, the Government is also rushing student nurses and doctors into the system to ease the pressure on personnel.

Third-year nursing students will have their placements this year used to ease the burden on frontline nurses by them assuming second-line duties.

Graduate doctors, who traditionally do not begin their internships until July and August, have been informed they will be assigned to hospitals from late May, such is the looming crisis within the healthcare sector.

Junior doctors are also assuming roles that, traditionally, would have been undertaken by registrars and consultants in a bid to ease the workload on senior staff.

Further doctor rotations may be suspended to ensure the maximum number of experienced personnel are available.