The healthcare system is facing a "tsunami of missed care", the Oireachtas Committee on Health has heard.
Professor Robert Landers of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association said the backlog of patients which is building up due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will stretch the health services "to the absolute limit".
He said the private health service will have to be used to deal with the backlog in the short-term, but in the long-term there is a need to deal with staffing and infrastructure problems in the public system.
Prof Landers also said there was a lack of engagement regarding recruitment and there is a need to keep trainees once the pandemic ends.
The General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said problems around childcare are causing "very real issues" for staff, who have had to come up with a "myriad of arrangements" from paying extra money for childcare, to seeking the help of friends and family.
Healthcare workers 'were abandoned when the schools were closed', the Oireachtas health committee hears. At 9.15pm 'my seven-year-old was sitting there with her Abair Liom on the table waiting to do her homework with me. I just burst into tears'. | https://t.co/ivxKaYVMJE pic.twitter.com/fQMIrqqBeC— RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 9, 2021
Phil Ní Sheaghdha also told the committee that there was a need to address the situation regarding pay for student nurses and midwives.
She said she did not accept that students were "observing" but were actually working, and described the situation as "exploitation".
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the INMO met with the Minister for Health yesterday regarding student pay, but the situation remained "unchanged".
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INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha tells the Oireachtas health committee the #Covid19 vaccine roll-out has been 'haphazard' and it didn't follow the community presentation of the disease | https://t.co/ivxKaYVMJE pic.twitter.com/EKzYGaC22B— RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 9, 2021