Frontline workers not receiving support for long-Covid, nurses warn

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also addressed the INMO conference, hailing medical staff for their work in the Covid-19 battle.
Frontline workers not receiving support for long-Covid, nurses warn

More than 7500 nurses and midwives have contracted Covid-19, accounting for over one-quarter of all cases. Phil Ní Sheaghda, INMO General Secretary, has warned the long-term debilitating impact of the illness is making an impact. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The INMO has warned that frontline nurses and midwives experiencing long-term Covid-19 symptoms are not getting the medical or employment supports they need.

The organisation is calling for government and employer measures including tailored medical supports, research into the impacts of this syndrome, a guarantee that healthcare workers with symptoms won’t face income cuts if they miss work as a result.

More than 7,500 nurses and midwives have contracted Covid-19 in Ireland. This accounts for over a quarter of all Covid-19 cases among healthcare workers.

On Friday, the Annual Delegate Conference will hear from four nurses talking about their ongoing symptoms. These include extreme exhaustion, brain fog, difficulty breathing, heart problem and vision impairment.

The delegates will also debate two motions relating to Long-Covid syndrome.

INMO President and nurse, Karen McGowan said: “Long-Covid is a condition that takes so much out of people and they’re simply not being treated fairly.

“We are all looking forward to a time after this pandemic – but we cannot forget those who took great risks to provide care and are being left in the lurch."

She said any nurses or midwives with this condition deserve “long-term certainty” about their employment and a guarantee of medical care.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Covid can be a long-term, debilitating illness. People need to know where they stand, medically and in terms of work."

She called on the HSE to “lead the charge” on this and put protective measures in place.

“This is a condition people are acquiring at work, and their workplaces need to step up and give them the support they need,” she said.

'Courageous contribution'

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has praised nurses and midwives for their “courageous” contribution to the battle against Covid-19.

Addressing the INMO conference, he said they have worked diligently throughout the crisis.

And he said work is ongoing to find a way to publicly recognize this effort.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has praised nurses and midwives for their “courageous” contribution to the battle against Covid-19. Picture: Clare Keogh
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has praised nurses and midwives for their “courageous” contribution to the battle against Covid-19. Picture: Clare Keogh

Mr Martin said: “I’m deeply conscious of your courageous contribution to the national effort, the risks you may have faced and most painfully the tragic loss of some colleagues.” 

He spoke by video link to the conference, which is being held virtually over Thursday and Friday.

He said he wanted to “humbly thank” all of the medical staff. The hard work, he said, done by nurses and midwives last year “amplified” their profession across the nation.

There are now 41,000 nurses and midwives working in the public system, he said including more than 2,000 hired in the last year.

Mr Martin indicated that further recruitment is expected. He said the Framework for Safe Staffing is a key part of this. A review of allowances for student nurses continues.

“The minister (of health) and I look forward to examining the findings in due course,” he said.

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