Thousands of healthcare staff have been struck down with illness this January as Ireland’s hospital overcrowding crisis continues.
The Irish Daily Mail reports that an estimated 10,000 – 11,000 healthcare staff are on sick leave as Covid-19, flu and other illness spread in the community.
Meanwhile, there are record-breaking numbers of patients on hospital trolleys nationwide. The number of patients waiting in emergency departments on Tuesday hit a new record of 931 people. Patients are facing waits of up to 14 hours for treatment.
Saolta, which manages Letterkenny University Hospital and others, is urging people not to attend hospitals with non-emergency issues. LUH is also dealing with outbreaks of COVID-19 and flu across wards and departments
The Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation is calling for 5,000 more beds and support and protection for nurses from their employer.
“Our members are treating patients in the most undignified conditions. This is not the type of care they should be providing in a country that has the resources to provide additional capacity and support,” said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
“Nurses and other healthcare staff cannot continue to weather this storm without adequate support and protection from their employer, it will add to the increasing intention to leave of staff which is exactly what this health service does not need.”
People of Galway, Roscommon, Mayo, Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim are being asked to avoid attending social settings such as workplaces, schools or childcare facilities, if they have respiratory symptoms.
The call comes as health services in the West and North West regions experience “one of the busiest ever periods”. The area recorded 390 COVID-19 cases and 348 flu cases in the last week of 2022.
Dr Áine McNamara, Area Director of Public Health Area F, said: “As expected, Healthcare settings are extremely busy due to the unprecedented combination of very high levels of flu, Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses in the community. To protect yourself and others avail of COVID-19 and flu vaccines if you’re eligible, and stay at home if unwell. It is very important to avoid visiting healthcare and long-term residential settings if unwell.”