Healthcare Workers Need More Protection

Many healthcare workers in Mayo feel they are not getting adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and fear they are exposed to the possibility of contracting Covid-19, passing it on to their families and the patients for whom they are caring.  

I have received dozens of calls from staff across a wide range of medical disciplines who are distressed at the limited supply of PPE they are receiving.  Hospital workers, nursing home workers and community workers all appear to be impacted.  

I understand that there is a huge global demand for PPE at this time and no one expects to have more than is absolutely necessary for the job they do, but it is not right that workers are working in fear because they don’t feel adequately protected. 

There are two things that need to be done immediately.  Firstly the Government and the HSE at national level need to be transparent about the shortage of PPE and, secondly, they need to formally request all enterprise agencies such as the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Udaras na Gaeltachta and others to actively seek out companies and entrepreneurs who are willing and able to make items of PPE (masks, goggles, gowns and gloves).

I commend efforts made by some schools and companies to use their 3D printers to make face shields.  This should be done on a formal basis, asking all those with 3D printers to make them available to produce PPE to an agreed standard.  

I believe that we can no longer afford to wait for promised PPE to arrive from abroad.  We must come up with our own solutions and we must come up with them fast.  Twenty-six percent of those testing positive for Covid-19 are healthcare workers.  The impact of this on their own health, their families health and their patients health, as well as, on the capacity of the healthcare system as a whole is not something that can be ignored.  

This is compounded by the delays in obtaining test results.  I am getting calls from people who are waiting weeks for results. Immediate action from Government and the HSE is required on PPE and on test results. 

Speaking on Mid West Radio.