A number of senior HSE therapists in the West have been redeployed to work as Covid-19 testers and contact tracers, prompting concern about cancelled clinics and growing waiting lists.
The Irish Times reports that speech & language therapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists - who would have been working in primary care and disability services - have in recent months been assigned to the Covid-19 testing site at the former Galway Airport, and to a call centre based at NUI Galway where they carry out contact tracing.
In an email sent last Friday to management across the Galway, Mayo & Roscommon area, the HSE said it had been directed that serial testing in meat factories and food processing plants would commence this week, requiring staff to be freed up on a fulltime basis to assist with the testing.
The HSE acknowledged that this would place additional pressure on services, but added it was a national directive, which they're obliged to adhere to.
The Irish Association for Speech & Language Therapists said among those likely to be impacted were recovering Covid-19 patients who had been ventilated and whose voices and swallow had been affected as a result.