The optimism associated with the success of the Covid 19 vaccination programme, which reached the end of its first phase in early Autumn, allowed us to start to think about recovery, writes HMI President, Tony Canavan. We started to look again at plans to deal with the waiting lists that had expanded over the course of the previous twenty months and we started to describe the transition from pandemic to endemic and all that this entailed.
However, during November, the optimism was dampened by rising case numbers in the community and increasing numbers of patients with Covid 19 in our hospitals. The fourth wave is currently washing over us, when our hospitals are already busy with Winter pressures and our attention is necessarily focussed on Critical Care Capacity and managing admissions through the EDs. Community Health Services across the country have seen rapidly increasing testing and tracing demands while the hope was that at this time more normal activity would be resuming.
Last week has seen the arrival of another new variant of concern to our shores. The arrival of Omicron is a reminder to us that there is much about Covid 19 that remains uncertain. As Health Managers, our role in providing certainty where we can has never been more important or indeed more difficult.
Recruitment of staff across all elements of the health services is a real challenge. This is partly driven by ambitious HSE plans to bring an additional 16,000 staff into the service. But it is also driven by a shortage of some grades across the country. The role of Health Managers in coming up with effective recruitment strategies will be key in 2022. However, as critical as recruitment is, the importance of supporting existing personnel through this lengthy Covid 19 campaign cannot be overstated and will of course be key to the retention of the excellent staff already working in the Irish Health service. In our enthusiasm to recruit these much needed staff we must remind ourselves of the greater need to support existing staff so that they remain working within the system and remain driven to provide the best care that they can.
Over the last couple of months, we have been developing our own ‘Service Plan’ at HMI, which we will publish on our website over the coming weeks. We hope to build on the work of 2021 in developing our four HMI Regional Committees. We will aim to publish four editions of Health Manager over the year and we will aim to deliver eight regional seminars on line. We will continue to offer a wide range of training programmes in partnership with The Learning Rooms and we have already started planning our conference which we hope to run in the last quarter of 2022. Our aim as always will be to ensure that the HMI is accessible and that our work remains relevant to Health Managers.
Our aim for the year ahead is to grow our numbers of active members further. So, we would love to see new people or new prospective members attending our events. Remember the HMI is open to any and all health managers. We’d also love to hear from you directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.