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Left on hold: the healthcare staff who answered Ireland’s call

The big read: Thousands answered the plea to medical workers overseas to come home, but just 194 were recruited. Now that the worst of the Covid crisis appears to be over, staff on our wards are as overworked as ever. Have we missed a great opportunity to our solve our health service woes, asks John Meagher

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One of the lucky ones: Marianne Hennigan took on work in a hospital after returning from Australia to answer the Be on Call for Ireland initiative, and is now set to embark on the GP programme

One of the lucky ones: Marianne Hennigan took on work in a hospital after returning from Australia to answer the Be on Call for Ireland initiative, and is now set to embark on the GP programme

Credit: Eoin Kelleher/the Medical Independent

Credit: Eoin Kelleher/the Medical Independent

‘A sense of betrayal’: Paddy Hillery of the Irish Medical Organisation

‘A sense of betrayal’: Paddy Hillery of the Irish Medical Organisation

Promise: Former health minister Simon Harris said money was no object when it came to Be on Call for Ireland. Photo by Steve Humphreys

Promise: Former health minister Simon Harris said money was no object when it came to Be on Call for Ireland. Photo by Steve Humphreys

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One of the lucky ones: Marianne Hennigan took on work in a hospital after returning from Australia to answer the Be on Call for Ireland initiative, and is now set to embark on the GP programme

It was one of the few feel-good stories of the pandemic. The country called for help with the battle against Covid-19 and 73,000 people stood up and answered.

The HSE's Be on Call for Ireland initiative captured the imagination in a way that few would have expected - and it was a plea that was heard around the globe.

From mid-March, Irish doctors and nurses living and working in Australia, New Zealand and other far-flung places returned home to help with the biggest health crisis the State has ever experienced. The photos of young medics arriving in Dublin Airport provided much-needed comfort at a time when the numbers of cases and deaths were rising rapidly every day.