The vast majority of nurses who have recovered from COVID-19 continue to experience symptoms, with two-thirds still experiencing post-viral fatigue, a new survey has revealed.
The survey of over 7,000 nurses and midwives was carried out by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). Almost 10% of respondents -646 - had tested positive for COVID-19 at some point, and among these, 545 said they had recovered.
However, among those who had recovered, 91% said they continued to experience symptoms, including trouble concentrating, breathing problems, headaches, palpitations and anxiety.
Some 65% of those who had recovered said they still had post-viral fatigue.
"Fatigue is a major risk to patient and staff safety, especially in a pandemic. Many of our members are reporting that despite recovery, they are still facing exhaustion.
"The impacts of this virus can be long lasting, so nurses and midwives returning to work after recovery are going to need support. For many, there will be a long road to full recovery," commented INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
Meanwhile, 81% of all nurses and midwives surveyed said that working in the health service during the pandemic had somewhat or substantially impacted their mental health.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha insisted that as winter approaches, frontline staff "face a toxic combination of fatigue and understaffing".
"Safe staffing levels are the only way to ensure that our health service is not overwhelmed. We urgently need a clear plan to ramp up health service capacity before winter hits," she said.
The INMO also called for the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to become involved in examining the high rate of infection among healthcare workers. Current regulations prevent the HSA from doing this.
One-third of all COVID cases in Ireland involve healthcare workers.
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