65% of nurses who have recovered from Covid-19 are still fatigued.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has found that most nurses who got better after contracting the virus continued to experience symptoms.
The INMO survey of its members found that 65% of the 545 nurses who said they had recovered from Covid-19 still had fatigue.
Also, 91% were still experiencing mental difficulties, headaches, and breathing problems.
Other post-viral symptoms included anxiety, trouble concentrating, dizziness, recurring fever, and palpitations. 81% of the 7,068 nurses and midwives who responded to the survey, including those who did not contract Covid-19, said that working during the pandemic had affected their mental health.
The INMO will present their findings to the Oireachtas special committee on Covid-19 response, when highlighting the importance of safe staffing.
INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, warned that fatigue was a major risk to patient and staff safety, especially in a pandemic.
“Many of our members are reporting that, despite recovery, they are still facing exhaustion,” said Ms Ní Sheaghdha.
“The impacts of this virus can be long-lasting, so nurses and midwives returning to work after recovery are going to need support," she said.
For many, there will be a long road to full recovery.
“They will also need certainty that past mistakes are being corrected. The Government should empower the Health and Safety Authority to investigate cases,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha said.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha warned that as winter approaches, frontline staff face a “toxic combination” of fatigue and understaffing.
“Safe staffing levels are the only way to ensure that our health service is not overwhelmed," she said. "We urgently need a clear plan to ramp up health service capacity, before winter hits.”
During the committee meeting, Ms Ní Sheaghdha will be joined by a Dublin staff nurse who contracted the virus and has ongoing symptoms.
Meanwhile, the Medical Protection Society has called for a "one-stop" mental-wellbeing resource as doctors move from the Covid-19 frontline to tackling a "colossal" referral backlog.
Doctors may be experiencing burnout, grief, or PTSD from treating Covid-19 patients, but will not have time to seek treatment or recuperate, before facing the patients who have delayed diagnoses, following the cancellation of non-urgent care.