Covid still an issue in hospitals and mask mandates should stay, says INMO chief

Vivienne Clarke

Phil Ní Sheaghdha, general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has warned that Covid is still an issue in the health care system with 19 patients nationwide in ICU specifically because of the virus.

“It hasn't gone away,” she told RTÉ radio’s Today show. “We're really concerned about the announcement that the mask mandate is going to be lifted next week.”

“If you had a perfect hospital system that had single rooms and everybody was being cared for in isolation, that's fine to make these types of infection prevention and control announcements.

"But when you have an overcrowded environment with overcrowded wards, overcrowded EDs, this is absolutely the wrong move right now.”

Ms Ní Sheaghdha explained that the universal use of masks will end on April 19th for patients, staff and visitors. But in their statement, the HSE said that patients in multi bed wards should be offered masks if others are symptomatic.

“So in other words they're saying it's up to the patient.

"No patient in hospital is going to know whether somebody else is symptomatic. That is the responsibility of the health care provider in our view. And we don't want nurses put in a position where they're saying to one patient, well, look, that patient over there has a cough, so you should be really wearing a mask. It's absolutely nonsensical.

“We believe that we've always been critical of the information that the HSE have provided in respect of infection control and cross-infection in hospitals.

"Unfortunately, we know that many people are getting Covid and getting other transmissible conditions in the hospital by virtue of just simply being in hospital because of the environment, because of the air, because of the overcrowding.”