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New emergency COVID protocol across HSE – INMO Exec Council
Press release 8.1.21

New “critical emergency” protocols are needed in the HSE to deal with this phase of the pandemic, the INMO’s Executive Council said today (Friday).

The nurses and midwives on the union’s elected board spoke of the severe pressure understaffing and increased COVID cases were putting on the health service.

They are now calling on the HSE to put together new emergency protocols to combat the virus, which take account of the extent of the threat faced.

New protocols could include measures such as:

  • Drastic reductions in footfall throughout hospitals
  • Additional PPE provision and requirements
  • 24/7 senior management presence across the health service
  • Improved daily communications with staff
  • Acknowledgement of organisational responsibility for systemic risks over which staff have no control
  • Additional engagement with staff representatives such as the INMO.

The union’s Executive Council repeated its call for provision of childcare for all healthcare workers, to ensure that school closures do not further deplete rosters.

INMO President and emergency department nurse, Karen McGowan, said:

“A new level of crisis demands a new approach. The HSE needs to upgrade its protocols and safety measures urgently to take account of the rapid growth of this virus.

“The health service we had just last month is unrecognisable today. Staff on the ground are telling us that a drastic upgrade in safety is needed, to protect workers and patients alike.”

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:

“It is time for the HSE to ramp up safety plans and introduce critical emergency protocols.

“During the nursing and midwifery strike in 2019, we held daily meetings with the HSE and across hospitals to ensure that safety was maintained. We need to adopt the same mindset today.

“We have safety protocols that have been tweaked since March of last year – the level of pandemic we face now means many need a total overhaul or serious upgrade. The EU biological agent directive was adopted in Ireland in November. It requires the HSE to risk assess and adopt their approach to staff safety - this is the ask and the requirement.”

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