Covid Infection Among Ireland’s Healthcare Staff Is Highest In The World

Nurse - Face Shield - Courtesy of INMO

Nurses with children feel “abandoned” by the State during the covid-19 restrictions, the special Oireachtas Committee heard today.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said today that by the 8th of May, 8,018 cases of infection of healthcare workers were reported, with healthcare workers making up a third of all positive Covid-19 positive cases in Ireland.

The INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha also said that their members feel “applauded” but “abandoned” due to a failure by the State to provide childcare as they worked on the front-line of the pandemic.

60% of healthcare workers who contracted Covid-19 are still sick.  4,823 health service staff remain ill, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, appearing before the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee.

One in ten coronavirus cases here involved nurses, with 88% of them becoming infected at work.

The union says most nurses and midwives are having to use annual leave to care for their children, since the outbreak began in February.

An INMO survey found 62% of nurses and midwives are using annual leave days to care for their children, 22% are paying childminders, and 10% are having their children minded by grandparents.

One in ten covid cases here are nurses. The INMO wants childcare days given back, costs reimbursed and nurses given preferential childcare access.

Phil Ní Sheaghda added today: “We have long sought a solution to the childcare problem facing our members.

“They want to do their jobs, while also knowing that their children are being looked after. This is not an unreasonable demand.

“Nobody doubts that childcare in a pandemic is a difficult issue, but so far that difficulty has landed on those who are taking the greatest risks during the pandemic.

“One in ten Covid cases in this country are nurses. We must support them better.” 

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health Louise O’Reilly has described the evidence given by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and SIPTU around the government’s treatment of workers throughout the Covid-19 crisis as “shocking”.

Dublin Fingal TD O’Reilly believes that the picture painted at this morning’s Oireachtas Covid-19 Committee sitting once again underlined the disdain with which Fine Gael governments have treated frontline workers, many of whom were “abandoned by the state” during this crisis.

“The INMO described how nurses were “applauded and abandoned” by government.

“Due to the failure of the government to make good on their commitments to provide childcare for frontline healthcare workers, some workers had to use annual leave days to care for their children.

“They were totally abandoned by the state in this regard.

“Not only did they feel this was incredibly unfair on their children and their families, but they also felt it left them in a situation where they were letting their colleagues down because they couldn’t join their teams on the frontline due to no childcare being available.

“One of the most shocking aspects of the evidence from the INMO was how in the early days of the crisis, when the government were still dilly-dallying on the advice around masks, one nurse was sent home from her shift and disciplinary action taken against her for wearing a mask to protect herself.

“The shocking evidence today yet again paints a bleak picture of how Fine Gael treat and value our nursing staff.”