Deputy Sorca Clarke.

'The government’s shambolic approach to health and housing must end', says Clarke

More needs to be done to stop nurses and midwives being forced to emigrate due to the cost of living and housing crises, Deputy Sorca Clarke says.

Deputy Clarke has called on her fellow Longford Westmeath TD's to back a Sinn Féin motion this week to “tackle the housing and cost of living crises that are driving nurses, doctors, and health professionals abroad and bring them home”.

Speaking today, Deputy Clarke said: “Government has failed to tackle the housing and cost of living crisis and this is driving young nurses and other healthcare professionals from Longford and Westmeath to emigrate and stopping others from coming home.

“Sinn Féin in Government would train and retain more key frontline staff and fix the housing crisis to help healthcare workers come home.

“Sinn Féin will bring forward a motion in the Dáil this week to tackle the housing and cost of living crises that are driving nurses, doctors, and health professionals abroad and bring them home. Many returned during Covid only to feel compelled to leave again because they simply can't afford to live in Ireland.

"Nurses and midwives do incredible work every day caring for patients and looking after our communities right across Longford Westmeath. Despite this invaluable work, nurses and midwives feel badly let down by this government.

“Too many nurses and midwives are being forced to emigrate abroad, as their wages can’t match the spiralling cost of living and the catastrophic housing crisis under this government. They want to be able to work in Ireland, to care for their local communities and to be near their families and friends in Longford and Westmeath.

“This is causing a huge drain of talent for the health service and is adding to staff shortages across Ireland. This in turn is worsening an already appalling trolley crisis and record waiting lists that is affecting people in Longford and Westmeath every day, with patients forced to wait hours without a bed in A&E or years languishing on waiting lists to access time-sensitive care.

“These failures reflect the government’s total inability to deliver on fundamental issues which communities need. The housing crisis has been causing hardship and misery for ordinary people for years and has continued to spiral on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s watch. This crisis has seen entire generations locked out of home ownership, forced to live in cramped accommodation with family or trapped paying sky-high rents they can’t afford.

“Now, we are seeing this shameful crisis deepen other failures of this government. The housing crisis is undermining the health system’s ability to recruit and retain staff, which is making the existing crisis in health even worse.

“It is clear that the government is unable to get these fundamental issues right, bringing the housing system and health service to their knees.

“Our motion this week contains a package of measures including demanding that the government act now to end the crises in health and housing. It demands that the government urgently review its housing plan and increases its targets for social and affordable housing to rent or buy. It also calls for one month’s rent to be put back into renters’ pockets and for a ban on rent increases in the next three years.

“Our motion calls for a job’s guarantee for healthcare graduates. It also urges the government to identify, examine and consider all potential mechanisms to address cost of living barriers to recruitment and retention of key workers.

“It also mandates the government to immediately engage with General Practice to ensure GPs are supported to take pressure off hospitals and emergency departments, especially by expanding out of hours care, and engage with other primary care professions such as pharmacies to ensure late night options are available across the state.

“This package of measures would address this crisis and ensure that nurses and midwives no longer feel forced to emigrate. Sinn Féin’s proposals would ensure that the health service receives much-needed support to take pressure off staff and ensure that they can do their jobs safely and deliver high quality, timely care to patients in Longford and Westmeath

“I am urging all TDs in Longford Westmeath to back our motion in the Dáil this week. The government’s shambolic approach to health and housing must end.”