Serious concerns have been raised over the Covid-19 testing policy for staff at Letterkenny University Hospital.
Staff have been asked to return to work at the hospital while waiting on Covid-19 test results. However, the HSE advises members of the public to self-isolate if awaiting test results or to restrict their movements for 14 days if they are a close contact.
Letterkenny Councillor Gerry McMonagle called for clarity on the policy at LUH at Tuesday’s meeting of the Regional Health Forum West.
He said: “Staff members are given multiple Covid tests, but they have to go into work after they have their tests and before they get their results.
“We have multiple patients who have went into the hospital free of Covid and are catching Covid in there,” Cllr McMonagle claimed.
“I think the practice of LUH, and any other hospital that is doing this, is bordering on being reckless, by bringing people, especially staff members who have been working with Covid patients, and asking them to come into work before they get their tests.
“I think that adds to the spread of Covid in some cases. Surely this practice should be stopped,” he said.
Saolta Group CEO Tony Canavan, speaking at the online meeting, confirmed that Letterkenny University Hospital is continuing to deal with an outbreak of Covid-19.
Mr Canavan said that the Outbreak Control Team is working to get the situation under control and members of staff should follow clinical advice if referred for a test.
Mr Canavan added that it will take time to bring the situation back under control, “but the right experts and the right people in the right location are making those decisions in the best interests of providing safe services to people in Donegal. It’s not possible for us to get involved in armchair epidemiology or armchair diagnoses of what the best approach to this is.”
Cllr McMonagle said staff have been “very concerned they are being asked to come back into work before Covid test has been adjudicated as being negative or positive.”
“That is not an expert way to do things,” he said.
“As long as LUH follows that policy there will always be Covid in LUH, and that is a sad thing to say. We are not doing anything to eradicate it if we are to continue with that policy of bringing staff members back into the hospital before tests are known.”