Hospital acquired Covid infection must be tackled

In Blog by Denis Naughten

Following my questioning of the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in the Dáil last Thursday on the issue of picking up Covid infection in our hospitals, we have had the disclosure that in at least one hospital  up to 5% of staff were unknowingly Covid positive; and we now have the admission that 40 people a day have picked up Covid in our hospitals, this month.

At the same time, we have examples in our hospitals, like Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, where staff are getting their 2nd vaccine shot while some frontline nurses and care staff in the same hospitals, have yet to receive their 1st vaccine shot.

And all this while the HSE distribution of the higher specification FFP2 facemasks, are being allocated centrally to hospitals, but  ONLY on the basis of the number of patients who are ALREADY Covid positive, rather than on the basis of the actual risk to staff and patients.

But none of this should come as a surprise

Last November, I pointed out to An Taoiseach that operations were being cancelled in our hospitals due to the scale of Covid infections

On the return of the Dáil earlier this month, I pointed out to the Minister for Health that some hospitals did not have enough bins to cater for the volumes of contaminated PPE being generated.

And last week, I pointed out to the Tánaiste that after 9 months dealing with the Covid pandemic the HSE still had not put a national outbreak management team in place to ensure we had a consistent approach to controlling the spread of this deadly virus in our hospitals.

This the same organisation that only reluctantly established such a team, 7 months earlier for meat plants, but only after I persistently highlighting the issue.

We now need to see a far more proactive approach to controlling Covid acquired infection in our hospitals. This is now urgently needed for patients, front-line staff and those who will, sadly, need our hospitals over the weeks and months to come.