There are more than 7,000 health staff out of work, many due to a Covid-19 diagnosis or because they are close contacts of a confirmed case.
The HSE has said it is asking close contacts who are asymptomatic and who have had a negative test result to return to work as the healthcare system is under immense pressure.
HSE Chief Operations Officer Dr Anne O’Connor said more than 7,000 staff are currently absent across hospitals, nursing homes, home support services and community services. Around 4,000 of those staff are absent from acute hospitals.
She said many of these healthcare workers are out of work due to being Covid-positive or because they are a close contact of a confirmed case.
“The reality is that the demand now is so high, and the numbers are becoming so high that we need staff at work and given the level of absenteeism that is becoming very difficult across the board. So, not just in our hospitals but nursing homes also are extremely challenged on this front,” she said.