A group of doctors and nurses at Nenagh Hospital have called on the Government to sanction the roll-out of vaccines for the hospital’s frontline staff, who have been treating Covid-19 patients since last March.
Staff at the Co Tipperary hospital said they were “infuriated” that they had not yet received the vaccine while their colleagues within the UL Hospitals Group had, at University Hospital Limerick, Ennis Hospital and University Limerick Maternity Hospital.
Before the start of her shift “nursing Covid patients” this morning, clinical nurse manager Louise Morgan Walsh, along with several colleagues, appeared in a video pleading with the Government to release vaccines for staff at the hospital.
The unprecedented recording by HSE staff was posted on Ms Morgan Walsh’s Facebook account.
Exhausted, vulnerable and frightened frontline workers. Pleading with the government to provide us with #Covid19 vaccines... and asking why are we being left out? Please like and share
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Posted by M Walsh Lou on Friday, January 15, 2021
In the video message to the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Ms Morgan Walsh says she wants “to know why aren’t we being vaccinated, why are we being left out”.
The frontline worker said she was “exasperated” because staff had yet to be told when they would receive vaccines, let alone receive the potentially life-saving jab.
“We are so angry, we are scared, we are afraid, we can see our co-workers going down with Covid and becoming very ill,” she said.
“How come we in Nenagh Hospital are being left out, when we can see private hospitals being vaccinated where there are no Covid patients, that’s a question I want to ask the Minister (for Health),” Ms Morgan Walsh added.
Our co-workers are going down... we are so scared, and we have no sight of a vaccine
Another female staff member who appeared in the video said: “I’m very infuriated that we have not even got a date for a vaccine here in Nenagh hospital. Everybody has family members, whether it be elderly parents, elderly grandparents, children, and we are so infuriated that it’s being picked who is getting this vaccine.”
“Our co-workers are going down (with Covid) at a rate that is just unbelievable, we are so scared, and we have no sight of a vaccine,” she added.
A third female staff member said the situation is “urgent” at the hospital.
“We already currently understaffed, and if we do not get this vaccine we are outnumbered patient to staff ratio — this is urgent,” she said.
A male doctor also addressed the camera, saying that “none of the staff here have been vaccinated so far and we have a lot of numbers of Covid patients that we are dealing with every day”.
“I request the government to take immediate steps to provide vaccines for us,” he continued.
A second male doctor who said he has been deployed to the “Covid ward” at Nenagh, added: “I’m being deployed with the Covid patients and I did not get my vaccine yet, the staff who are not frontline are getting it, why aren’t we?”
Another male staff member says: “We have been looking after Covid patients since March, and we should be the ones who receive the vaccine first, not the other staff working in the other sectors, it is really frustrating, and we are really under pressure, so I think we deserve to get vaccinated”.
UL Hospitals Group has been asked for comment.
In response to earlier queries, it said that 574 staff across the mid-west hospital group were not available for work due to Covid-19.
Up to 2,500 staff across the hospital group have received a first dose of the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine.
However, group staff at Nenagh Hospital; St Johns Hospital, Limerick; and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital have not yet been told when they will be vaccinated.