Frontline Covid-19 nurses have demanded pgraded safety standards immediately to get coronavirus hospital infections under control.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation made the call due to nearly 2,000 healthcare workers catching the virus over two weeks in outbreaks traced to where they work.
To combat the problem, the INMO is calling for urgent upgrades to safety measures including:
- A national requirement that high-standard FFP2 masks be used in all healthcare settings – not just basic surgical masks;
- Distance between beds is increased from the current one metre minimum to two metres
- Regular testing for all staff in healthcare settings on a rolling basis
- Safety review in each hospital, in particular to reduce footfall and improve decontamination practices
The INMO claim that some hospitals (such as Cork University Hospital) have already introduced FFP2 masks as standard, but practices vary across the country.
The INMO is calling for clearer national direction for masks and other measures. They have also referred the issue to the Health and Safety Authority.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said going public with their demand should not be necessary.
"We should not have to campaign for basic safety measures in our hospitals, yet we are seeing precious little progress from the HSE.
“Hospital infection rates are out of control. This is directly harming frontline staff and depleting rosters.
“The HSE need to take control and issue strong national guidance to increase safety standards.
“Our members are furious that while many wait to get even their first vaccine, HSE policy is leaving them exposed to the virus.”
Nurses say that between 06/01/2021 and 19/01/01/2021 (the latest available period there have been 5,403 reported healthcare workers infected with the virus. They say that 1,957 of those are confirmed as having been infected in a healthcare setting.