HSE admits supply of protective equipment at some hospitals is 'tight'

HSE admits supply of protective equipment at some hospitals is 'tight'

The HSE has acknowledged that the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) is "tight" in certain hospitals.

The shortage of the equipment will now see protective equipment "redistributed" from certain hospitals who have more than others.

A new order of PPE is due to be delivered to Ireland on Sunday, which includes 11 million masks, half a million gowns, and one million sets of goggles.

The HSE's normal full-year spend on PPE is €15m, the projected spend for this year €240m.

Opposition politicians held a video conference with the health service agency this morning, which was described as "disappointing" by some of those present, with some representatives stating they felt that they could not get detailed answers to their queries.

Many have flagged concerns over the availability of PPE for nurses and other staff at the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic, after calls for donations and help in manufacturing the gowns and masks have gone out on social media.

It has also been reported to a number of TDs that major hospitals were struggling, and in some cases seeing staff treating those potentially affected with no protective equipment at all.

Sinn Féin have asked the government for more clarity on the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.

"What the HSE has told us is that they are expecting a delivery on Sunday, which should alleviate some of the pressure," Ms O'Reilly said.

"They acknowledged that this is an issue that it is in some areas tight.

"They also said that they're going to have to redistribute, some areas obviously have more than others so they're going to attempt to redistribute, that we did press on them the need for this to be urgently tackled.

"We also see on social media in the last 24 hours, health care professionals coming out and asking anyone, any pharmaceutical company, any college, any person who might have any personal protective equipment to please donate it to the HSE as a matter of urgency, these people are on the front line.

"I think they need to be supplied with this with this vital equipment, and I think it needs to be prioritized, as a matter of urgency."

Ms O'Reilly added that the issue of construction sites continuing to operate was also raised during the conference.

It emerged at the Taoiseach's briefing last night that construction sites and factories could remain open if they could adhere to new guidelines on distancing, however many have observed that this would be likely impossible on a number of sites and locations.

Photos posted on social media in the day since the briefing, show many sites not adhering to social distancing measures and reports of inadequate hand washing ports for staff.

"I was contacted by a woman this morning whose husband works on a building site, they have four toilets between around 420 workers," Ms O'Reilly added.

"They don't have the capacity to do say physical distancing, the HSE are of the opinion that physical distancing should be practiced and should be practiced on these building sites.

"But I believe there is a role here for the Health and Safety Authority.

"I think at this stage, we're not just talking about construction sites we are also talking about call centres, large places, factories, places where people have no choice but to be close and in physical contact with each other.

"If they're not provided with adequate personal protective equipment, and if their health and safety can't be guaranteed, well then, I think we need to look at either reconfiguring how the work is done, or closing these sites down temporarily."

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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