April 5, 2020 / 5:48 PM / 2 months ago

Ireland's PM returns to medical practice to help in coronavirus crisis

FILE PHOTO: Ireland's Prime Minister Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks during a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Government Buildings in Dublin, Ireland March 24, 2020. Steve Humphreys/Pool via REUTERS

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland’s prime minister Leo Varadkar has re-registered as a medical practitioner and will work one shift a week to help out during the coronavirus crisis, his office said on Sunday.

Varadkar worked as a doctor for seven years before leaving the profession to become a politician and was removed from the medical register in 2013.

He rejoined the medical register in March, and offered his services to the country’s Health Service Executive (HSE) for one session a week in areas that are within his scope of practice, a spokesman for his office said.

“Many of his family and friends are working in the health service. He wanted to help out even in a small way,” the spokesman added.

Last month, health minister Simon Harris launched a recruitment drive for the country’s struggling health service to tackle the coronavirus outbreak with a stark message: “Your country needs you”.

The HSE said it had spoken to thousands of healthcare professionals who may be eligible to return after it received more than 70,000 responses for its “Be on call for Ireland” initiative.

According to a report in the Irish Times, Varadkar is helping out with phone assessments. Anybody who may have been exposed to the virus is initially assessed over the phone.

Varadkar comes from a medical family. He is the son of a doctor and a nurse and, according to the Irish Times, his partner, two sisters and their husbands all work in healthcare.

Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by David Holmes and Pravin Char

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