Frontline hospital staff in Limerick, Ennis, Nenagh, and Croom have been told they could face disciplinary action if they upgrade to a safer standard of facemask.
A memo from UL Hospital Group management requires that staff wear surgicial facemasks in “standard” settings, saying that “failure to comply may result in disciplinary procedure.”
Frontline INMO members have judged that the higher-standard FFP2 masks should be worn for their safety, as is the case in Cork hospitals, but are being restricted from doing so.
The INMO has called on hospital management to withdraw the memo immediately and instead comply with a national HSE memo which allows the use of upgraded PPE protections.
The union has referred the matter nationally to the Health and Safety Authority for urgent intervention.
Local INMO members have also sought an urgent meeting with management on critical care capacity problems in UHL, due to vacant positions.
INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations, Mary Fogarty, said:
“Our members are outraged. They are doing the best they can to protect themselves and patients from the virus, but are being threatened with disciplinary action.
“These are trained, regulated professionals whose clinical judgement is to wear safer levels of PPE – especially given the more virulent strains of COVID now circulating.
“Hospitals in Cork and across the country have brought in higher face mask standards to protect staff. UL Hospital Group management should do the same. At the very least, they should not be preventing frontline staff from staying safe.
“This threatening memo should be withdrawn immediately.”