23 January 2021
By Elaine Murphy
- Hospital infection rates “out of control” – INMO demands strict new measures
- Upgraded safety standards are needed immediately to get COVID hospital infections under control, the INMO has said.
Nearly 2,000 healthcare workers have caught the virus over two weeks in outbreaks directly traced to their workplaces.
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
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:
“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.”