'Immediate stronger public health measures needed': Nurses and doctors in call for urgent measures to reduce Covid spread

On Wednesday, there were 102 Covid-positive patients at Cork University Hospital and 17 patients with the virus at the Mercy University Hospital.
'Immediate stronger public health measures needed': Nurses and doctors in call for urgent measures to reduce Covid spread

Nurses and doctors are calling on Government, public health officials and HSE senior management to take action including that public health measures be revisited.

Nurses and doctors working in emergency departments around the country have urged the Government to provide assistance to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The joint call from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, representing nurses in emergency departments and overcrowded wards, and the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine representing doctors working in emergency departments comes as figures show more than 10,000 patients have been without a bed since the mask mandate was lifted on February 28 and over 1,500 patients are in hospital currently with Covid. 

Yesterday, there were 102 Covid-positive patients at Cork University Hospital and 17 patients with the virus at the Mercy University Hospital.

Joint appeal 

In its joint call, the nurses and doctors said that in addition to serious patient risks, there are very significant risks for medical and nursing staff who are now exhausted from being on the front line, dealing with wave-upon-wave of patients diagnosed with Covid and the other drivers of increased attendances, including a significant increase in acute mental health emergencies and increased paediatric admissions, while dealing with their own personal and family anxieties.

They are now calling on Government, public health officials and HSE senior management to take action including that public health measures be revisited, particularly the simple ones: mask-wearing in indoor and congregated settings and working from home. 

They have also called for adherence to the advice from the World Health Organisation.

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “The INMO and our colleagues in the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine have come together today to call on the Government and public health teams to review measures ahead of the peak of the latest wave of the Covid virus. Wearing masks and working from home will assist, they will not stop the spread, but have and will reduce intensity of infection and reduce cross infection. Mandating these measures is now a matter of urgency.”

She said that hospitals are currently not safe for patients or for staff because of the level of overcrowding and Covid infection levels.

“We need clear and coherent public health advice from Government and senior public health officials. The public need to be made aware of why we need them to once again step up to the plate in order to protect those who are working on our frontlines.” 

Immediate measures needed 

Karen McGowan INMO President and an Emergency Department nurse said:

“When senior clinicians from a medical and nursing perspective sound the alarm to this extent someone must stop and pay attention. Between both of our organisations, we have been calling on Government and senior public health officials to act when it comes to implementing public health advice. Our members currently feel like they are getting no support and are being left to deal with the worst of this virus by themselves. If staff are saying this is how unsafe it is, well, then everybody can’t remain silent.

Irish Association of Emergency Medicine President, Mr Fergal Hickey said that the situation in Irish hospitals at present “is the worst that many of my colleagues and I have seen in our careers.” He added: “Our hospitals have been hanging together by a thread of goodwill of staff but that is about to snap.

“Immediate stronger public health measures are needed - not doing so and abandoning the hospitals to the inevitable will lead to preventable unnecessary higher levels of illness requiring hospital admission and, sadly, for some a fatal outcome."

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