Staff shortages due to Covid hitting numerous sectors

Almost 8 per cent of all nurses absent from work are out due to the virus, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said.
Staff shortages due to Covid hitting numerous sectors

Staff shortages related to Covid-19 have hit a number of sectors, with many organisations saying temporary changes may be introduced to deal with the absences.

It comes as Covid cases have been rising to record levels in recent weeks, with the HSE’s chief clinical director Dr Colm Henry saying 25 per cent of the cases in 2021 were between Christmas and New Year.

As the Irish Examiner reports, almost 8 per cent of all nurses absent from work are out due to the virus, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Healthcare

This follows figures from the HSE on Thursday which showed an average of 12.5 per cent of overall staff are absent either because they have tested positive for Covid or are a close contact of a confirmed case.

The INMO said on Friday that feedback from their members indicates this level of absenteeism is unsustainable, calling for a longer suspension of elective operations. Earlier this week the HSE urged hospitals to cancel elective operations for two weeks.

“Today 353 patients are on trolleys, a 100 per cent increase on the number of patients on trolleys compared to this day last year,” INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said.

“Our nursing and midwifery rosters are depleted. It is becoming increasingly difficult to fill rosters. According to our own calculations based on figures provided by the HSE, 7.29 per cent of nurses are on Covid-related leave at present.”

Pharmacies

Meanwhile, The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has said some pharmacies have had to reduce hours or close for certain days due to Covid-related staff shortages, adding that community pharmacies are under “significant pressure”.

The IPU has called on people to plan ahead and wherever possible order required medications, such as repeat prescriptions, well in advance.

“Doing so will alleviate the pressures on pharmacies while ensuring no interruption in medicine supply,” it said.

Schools

Schools reopened for the first time since Christmas on Thursday and there were severe staff shortages.

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland estimated that 15-30 per cent of staff were absent while the Irish Primary Principals' Network reported schools were down 20-25 per cent of staff.

Many principals also reported that 30-40 per cent of children did not turn up for class.

Transport & An Post

Bus Éireann said it is experiencing “minor disruption” due to Covid-related absences.

The company said it is “working agilely on a daily basis across its 17 depots to prioritise services so as to minimise customer disruption”.

Finally, An Post has warned some post offices may have to close temporarily due to “a significant increase in Covid-19 related absence”.

It said that the absences are “placing a temporary strain” on resources and this may impact regular service delivery levels.

Customers have been advised that where a post office has to temporarily close, social welfare benefit payments will be transferred to a neighbouring office.

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