Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has said that the Department of Health and HSE have been misrepresenting the state’s contact tracing capacity.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“Previously, we were told there would be in the region of 1,000 contact tracers in the system by the end of the year. This turned out to be spin.
“Today we were told 800, from a current figure of 581. That is only an increase of 219. That is a far cry from the additional 800 contact tracers that were promised.
“When the system collapsed not two weeks ago, we needed to have at least 750 contact tracers.
“That was by the HSE’s own metrics which also committed, in the Winter Plan, to having 70% of staff in place by this month, and 100% by next week.
“The recruitment process is infuriatingly slow. It only started on the 7th of September, when the full complement of staff should have been in place before the end of September.
“This is an admission of failure, and proof that the summer months were wasted.
“Instead, we were left exposed to a second wave and far below where we needed to be.
“This failure is what resulted in 1900 Covid patients having to do their own contact tracing. The system is all over the place.
“One patient had to travel 2 hours from Bantry to Cork and back for a Covid test to go to his local hospital despite there being a testing site 4 kilometres from his house.
“At this rate, preparations for the second wave won’t be complete until after the lockdown. That is wholly unacceptable.”