Call for measures to tackle growing Covid numbers in hospitals

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Nurses and midwives have called for new public health measures in Irish hospitals to tackle the sharp increase in Covid patients over the past month.

The INMO has said that between the end of May and this week, Covid hospitalisations increase from 198 to 885 – an increase of 347%.

University Hospital Galway has the third highest number of confirmed cases in the State, with 59, just behind University Hospital Limerick and Letterkenny University Hospital.

Yesterday, the INMO Executive called on the Government and HSE to introduce additional measures to alleviate the pressure on the health system.

These measures include the reintroduction of immediate Covid screening upon arrival of patients to EDs, strengthening advice around mask wearing, a second booster for healthcare workers and improved ventilation in healthcare settings.

INMO President, Karen McGowan, said that the pressure that all nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers are under at the moment is unsustainable.

She said that the rate at which we are seeing infections rise in hospitals is extremely worrying.

“As an INMO Executive, we know anecdotally that Covid is seriously impacting our rosters,” she said.

“But as the HSE no longer publish the levels of healthcare workers infected with COVID by profession this makes it impossible to know the exact scale of the problem.”

Ms McGowan said that they cannot adequately plan for what COVID might look like in hospitals during winter if they don’t know the scale of the problem now, during an abnormally busy time.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, added that nurses and midwives have an unsafe work environment in at the moment which is having implications for patient safety.

“Since the removal of the requirement to wear masks, we have seen over 39,861 people on trolleys in our hospitals while COVID cases are on the rise once again,” she said.

“While we understand that legislation is currently being prepared to legally underpin advice on mask-wearing, we cannot wait for the Oireachtas to pass legislation in the autumn.

“Unfortunately, COVID does not pay heed to the legislative agenda. Mask wearing in indoor and congregated settings must be introduced alongside a strong public health campaign.”

Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that it is ‘unfathomable’ to nurses that as COVID hospitalisations are increasing, immediate screening upon arrival to EDs has ceased.

Without screening upon arrival, we do not know the true scale of cases within our hospital system,” she said.

“All 29 emergency departments that nurses are currently working in are completely unsafe and overcrowded environment and not knowing the scale of COVID in our EDs is only making the situation worse. Screening upon arrival must be reintroduced for those presenting to EDs and same day admissions for elective care.”