Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan Pauline Tully says that the outbreak of COVID-19 among healthcare workers at Cavan General Hospital must serve as a wake-up call that the safety of our healthcare workers must be put first.
Seventy doctors and nurses at the hospital have been infected with the virus, while dozens more are self-isolating as a result.
Four wards have been shut in an attempt to contain infection, which will have huge ramifications for local people in need of hospital care in the coming weeks.
Teachta Tully said: “This alarming and worrying development has effectively locked down the hospital to patients other than those infected with COVID-19.
“This situation underlines the need for appropriate Personal Protection Equipment for all staff working on the frontline of our health service and protecting our loved ones.
“Latest figures show that there are 48 hospital clusters now across the state, that’s 16% of all clusters.
“Our healthcare workers now account for 27% of all those infected by the virus. This brings home the fears faced by those on the frontline fighting this virus.
“The fact that Cavan General Hospital is now in lockdown points to major failings in the supply and distribution of potentially lifesaving equipment.
“This is unacceptable – priority must be given to frontline staff who are placing their own health at risk in order to keep us safe and to treat our loved ones who have contracted the virus.
“Both myself and Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly will be raising these issues with the Minister for Health as a matter of urgency.
“We will be asking that his Department address the very serious and escalating situation that is impacting on staff and patients in Cavan General Hospital.
“This situation will have ramifications for those in need of hospital care in the coming weeks. They will fear going to the hospital for risk of infection.
“These closures must act as a wake-up call, otherwise the exceptionally difficult circumstances within the hospital will greatly worsen.
“There are lessons to be learned from this. If the issue of PPE is not addressed, this situation could be replicated across the state.”