SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The official figures show that health care workers make up 26% of all COVID-19 cases so far identified by public health officials. 63% of these cases were not travel related and the median age is 45 years old for those infected. SIPTU members have said that the numbers are related to the availability of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Our members are reporting that PPE is not readily available to all health workers in the quantities required. This issue must be given high priority as some hospital departments are now telling SIPTU representatives that stock rooms have no PPE left and health workers are resorting to re-using equipment normally only fit for single use. This situation is entirely unacceptable.”
Paul Bell also called on the Government to urgently review its approach to testing all health workers for COVID-19 regularly.
“While we are not being critical of the Government’s efforts to lead the country through this crisis we must express the deep concerns of our members. If we are to learn from the experiences of other countries which have successfully combatted the coronavirus surge in hospitals it must be to ensure the health and safety of all workers caring for COVID-19 patients.
“In other health services such as those in South Korea and Hong Kong, the coronavirus has been more effectively contained with the frequent testing of all health workers through a dedicated monitoring system. This can ensure that the virus does not spread more widely and that the maximum number of health workers are available for duty 100% of the time.”
He added: “Getting these critical elements of COVID-19 control right can only help public health officials bring this public health emergency to an earlier end.”