The country's nurses are at “breaking point” as they face heavy workloads and depleted staffing, and can no longer provide a safe service, Ireland's leading nursing union has said.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said hospital staffing is in “freefall,” with over 3,500 nurses currently out of work due to Covid-19.
It comes as Covid-19 hospitalisations continue at record levels, with 1,022 patients currently in hospital with the virus and 101 people in intensive care.
Ahead of an emergency meeting of the INMO's executive council taking place on Friday, general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said nurses are at breaking point.
“Their workloads are very heavy, they have rosters that are depleted because other healthcare workers are out sick and infected with Covid-19,” she said.
“They’re extraordinarily worried about their capability now of providing a safe service.”
The INMO are seeking an emergency meeting with the HSE, as Ms Ní Sheaghdha called for immediate action to deal with the staffing crisis.
“We need to see evidence of a fast recruitment campaign, and we need to see retired healthcare workers being invited back,” she said.
“We need to see every possible measure to increase the workforce being introduced. We don’t have evidence of that, all we’ve seen to date is annual leave has been cancelled.
“It’s seriously falling on the same group of people all of the time, and that’s just not safe.”
On Thursday, the chief of the HSE said the health service is dealing with an “extraordinary national crisis” as healthcare workers fight to save the lives of those with Covid-19 in attempts that are not always successful.
Speaking at a weekly update on the HSE’s pandemic response, Paul Reid said reaching the milestone of more than 1,000 people in hospital with Covid-19 must be a “call to arms to the public to support the health service in the coming weeks and months”.