Hundreds of staff at Galway hospitals are not at work because of Covid-19, it has been revealed.
Saolta confirmed this week that 406 staff at University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park are on Covid-related leave.
A further 55 staff at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe are off work because of Covid-19.
The number of people on leave includes those who have Covid-19 or are close contacts, staff who have symptoms, and people who are cocooning as they are in a high-risk category.
In a letter sent to Aontú TD Peadar Tóbín on Monday, Saolta also confirmed that there are 125 people off work at Mayo University Hospital, 38 at Roscommon University Hospital and 172 at Sligo University Hospital.
Aontú representative for Galway East, Joe Campbell said that the situation in the hospitals is becoming ‘extremely concerning’.
“Hospitals around the country are crying out for staff,” he said.
“We know that at the start of the pandemic, Minister Simon Harris announced the ‘Be on call for Ireland’ campaign, which encouraged healthcare workers to sign up to assist in fighting the virus on the frontlines.
“Shockingly, it appears that only a few hundred of them have been recruited to work in the health service.”
Mr Campbell said that his party has been consistently asking the government for clarity regarding the status of that database of 70,000 people.
“We have had many perfectly qualified nurses contacting us to say that they signed up but heard nothing,” he said.
Peadar Tóibín TD raised the issue with the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last Thursday, who said he was not up to date on the situation and that he would check it out with the Minister for Health.
The Tánaiste said: “When I was up to date on it a few months ago, we ran into real issues with it, in that a large number of people volunteered to be available but they were not necessarily qualified or resident in the State.”