29 Jun 2022

Why is HSE so slow to act on hospital infection?

“Our hospitals should be about making people better, not about picking up a virus that could be deadly,” Denis Naughten told the Dáil this week. His comments were made after the Tánaiste confirmed that one in every three patients are picking up Covid-19 in hospitals.

“While the HSE has stuck rigidly to the argument that these infections were as a result of staff picking up Covid in the community, the publication yesterday of a HSE report on Covid infection in hospitals exposes the fact that there was a six times higher rate of Covid-19 exposure in our hospitals than in the local community,” explained Denis Naughten.

“Despite the Tánaiste’s defence of not carrying out serial testing in our hospitals, like the testing that has taken place in meat plants, the same HSE report highlighted that 5 out of every 100  staff in St. James’ Hospital and 2 out of every 100 in Galway University Hospital were Covid positive and did not even know it.

“While first raising this issue at the beginning of November, I welcome the fact that this HSE Report on Covid infection in our hospitals has now been published and I believe it will be a game changer not only in protecting patients and staff in Galway University and St. James’ Hospitals but in every hospital across the country.

“While a very different approach was taken to meat plants, where a coordinated approach to infection in that industry was established seven months ago, it must be remembered that action was only taken by the HSE under duress.”

Speaking in Dáil Éireann Denis Naughten said: “The Tánaiste will recall that as a result of my persistent highlighting of the Covid infection problems in our meat plants during the first wave of infection, a national outbreak control team was put in place to ensure we would have a consistent national approach to managing Covid outbreaks in those facilities. Regular testing of all staff is now taking place in our meat plants.

“Surely if we can do this in the meat plants, we should be able to do it for patients, front-line staff and those who will, sadly, need our hospitals over the weeks and months to come?”

Denis Naughten pointed out: “While there is no doubt the participation of staff in Galway University and St. James’ Hospitals in this study will bring about a change in approach, one has to ask the question why have we not learned from the mistakes made in managing the first wave on infection in our nursing homes?”

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