Rising Covid cases linked to HSE cancellations and staff absences

ireland
Rising Covid Cases Linked To Hse Cancellations And Staff Absences Rising Covid Cases Linked To Hse Cancellations And Staff Absences
An estimated 440 procedures have been cancelled across 22 acute hospitals in the last two weeks. File photo: PA
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Increased Covid-19 cases have led to a surge in absences among healthcare workers and the cancellation of hundreds of planned medical procedures.

As the Government awaits key advice on providing booster vaccines to health staff, Health Service Executive statistics show that 2,700 are estimated to be off work as a result of the disease, an increase of 900 in a week.

An estimated 440 procedures have been cancelled across 22 acute hospitals in the last two weeks as pandemic-related pressures have mounted.

A HSE spokeswoman told The Irish Times that in addition to cancelled procedures “there would be a further impact on elective procedures” as appointments would not have been scheduled at all.

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The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) will hold a crunch meeting on Monday to discuss extending the booster campaign to healthcare workers. Coalition sources expect the outcome will be an expansion of the programme.

The HSE is planning to ramp up administration using mass-vaccination centres from the week after next. Pharmacies would be expected to play a role in the expanded booster campaign, which to date has meant GPs or mobile vaccination teams administer the shots to older people and those in nursing homes.

Phil Ní Sheaghdha, general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, told Niac chairwoman Prof Karina Butler in a letter on Friday that the health service was attempting to fill rosters with a decreasing number of staff.

“When our members, nurses and midwives, are working in locations which have confirmed cases of Covid-19 and they become infected, despite being fully vaccinated, do Niac now take responsibility for this preventable risk exposure?” she wrote.

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Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has ruled out a widespread return to contact-tracing policies that absent children from the classroom, but said there could be a role for antigen in selected situations.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) was considering wider use for antigen in schools. However, it was unclear when such advice would emerge.

To prevent further spread among children over the Halloween weekend, the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, advised people to give treats to trick-or-treaters outdoors if possible.

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