Ireland has launched an initiative for anyone with healthcare experience to be put to work in the fight against coronavirus

Dr. Anthony O’Connor from Ireland’s Medical Organization (IMO) spoke with Mary Walsh on RTE Radio’s Drivetime program on March 17 to discuss the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and Ireland’s response.

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At the time their conversation, there were 292 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland, where 6,637 tests had been carried out to date.

Their discussion came shortly before Taoiseach Leo Varadkar delivered his historic State of the Nation address in which he said the coronavirus pandemic could continue into the summer months, but that Ireland, as well as all of humanity, will prevail.

Dr. O’Connor said that the rise in cases every day in Ireland is not unexpected, but said “we’re certainly not at the stage at the moment of being overwhelmed, which means there’s still time for the Health Service to complete and continue its planning and that’s what this initiative of ‘Being on call for Ireland’ is trying to do.”

The initiative is asking for anyone for anyone with healthcare skills to come forward in anticipation of the coronavirus surge in Ireland.

“We’re looking for everyone who could be useful to make themselves useful,” Dr. O’Connor said, which includes recently reitred people as well as people about to finish college.

“The Minister [Simon Harris] has essentially promised a job to everybody who is about to finish college, and that certainly hasn’t always been the case in medical school in Ireland."

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Noting that the initiative is also looking for people from overseas, Dr. O’Connor said: "A fantastic thing I heard this morning is that a young Irish doctor in Perth, along with 24 of his other young Irish colleagues, have resigned their jobs this morning with the intention of coming back and they're looking for a way to come back and serve their country.

"This is a generation that's often had their motivations called into question, and they're proving that they're tremendous people. 

“We need to get the barriers out of the way and get them back home with all their overseas experience and get about helping this country in this crisis.”

When asked if he thinks others will follow like the group in Perth, Dr. O’Connor said: “These guys have a sense of patriotism. They're good people. And I'm sure we're going to see more and more people in the coming days that want to get involved.”

While Dr. O’Connor says he senses “a huge sense of resolve across the profession,” he added “a whole of government approach” will be required to get it all to work.

You can visit the HSE website to learn more about Ireland's 'Be On Call' healthcare recruitment initiative.

Simon Harris tweeted on March 18 that some 24,000 people have already reached out about 'Be On Call for Ireland':

In the last 24 hours, 24,000 people have contacted the @HSELive responding to our call for help! Ireland, I love you! What an amazing national effort. Thank you so much. Let’s keep at it. Go to and see if you can help #coronavirus #Covid19

— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 18, 2020

You can listen to Dr. O’Connor speaking on the March 17 Drivetime program here.