At 2pm today, there were 750 people with Covid-19 being treated in hospital, 172 of whom were being treated in Intensive Care Units (ICUs), the highest numbers since the pandemic began.
The third wave of the virus has brought the healthcare service under increasing pressure, with staff shortages continuing to be an issue.
The HSE is now asking workers who have been deemed close contacts to return to work before their 14-days of restricting their movements is up due to the high number of absent staff, which the INMO feels is “too high a risk”.
In a statement today, the organisation called on the Government to intervene, noting five key areas that need to be addressed.
The INMO is firstly asking for the policy of asking asymptomatic workers who are close contacts to return to work to be ended, along with an upgrade to the level of personal protective equipment (PPE) required in healthcare settings.
The organisation calls for all of the country’s private hospitals and staff to be nationalised to allow for greater bed and ICU capacity and to ease staff shortages.
Childminding provisions are also being sought, in the form of a partial school reopening or an expansion of after-school care, while the prioritisation of Covid vaccines for healthcare workers is also on their agenda.
Finally, the INMO has once again called for student nurses and midwives to receive proper pay and protections for their work, saying students are “facing high Covid risks on no or unacceptably low pay, in many cases without necessary employment rights and protections”.
INMO president Karen McGowan said the organisation’s members are saying the system is “overloaded” and cannot cope with the current levels of the virus in Ireland, adding: “Decisions at every level are happening too late to prevent infection and overburden.”
“The consequences are increasingly clear – our frontline members are paying the price,” Ms McGowan said.