Call for inquiry into health worker COVID rates

They account for one-third of all cases
  • Deborah Condon

Nurses have called for an independent inquiry into the high rate of COVID-19 infections among healthcare workers.

To date, almost one-third of COVID-19 cases in Ireland have involved healthcare workers.

According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), previous figures released in April revealed that 35% of infected healthcare workers were nurses.

It said that if this pattern continued into May, this would mean that more than 10% of all cases of the virus in Ireland have involved nurses.

The INMO has repeatedly called for the regular publication of detailed figures about infection rates in healthcare workers. It insists that this would help to better identify how the virus is being transmitted, and what steps are needed to reduce or eliminate the risk of infection.

In a letter to the HSE Chief Clinical Officer, the organisation said that it is "not satisfied with the level of detail available to date and therefore we advise that at this stage, it is a matter of such concern that it warrants immediate independent scrutiny".

"Healthcare workers make up a third of COVID-19 cases in Ireland. This is an unacceptably high rate, indicating that something is going wrong on the frontlines. Other countries see far lower rates of infection.

"To fix a problem, you need clear data. We have asked time and time again for the HSE to publish clear, detailed statistics on healthcare worker infection. This could tell us which services are worst-hit and where needs focused action. We have not received a satisfactory response," commented INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

She noted that the State "is asking our members to put their lives at risk to defeat this virus", so it should be providing clear information to allay staff fears.

"A culture of secrecy will only lead to more unnecessary infections. The INMO will be meeting with the Minister for Health on Tuesday. We will seek an urgent, independent inquiry into healthcare worker infection rates," Ms Ní Sheaghdha added.


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