‘Younger and wholesome’ frontline employees denied PPE throughout first Covid wave

Delly Bezoss

Some frontline healthcare employees have been instructed they didn’t want protecting tools or testing as a result of they have been “younger and wholesome” throughout the first wave of Covid-19, whereas others have been pressured to share tools akin to thermometers and goggles, an unpublished report for the Well being Service Government (HSE) has revealed.

One workers member who requested depart to guard an immunosuppressed partner was “denied this and instructed they’d lose their job if they didn’t present up for work”, the report discovered.

Well being employees stated goggles have been shared, with wipes supplied to wash them, and several other reported how oral or ear thermometers have been shared on wards, with plastic coverings modified between use, and the way blankets and beds have been moved out and in of Covid wards.

The in depth report was launched by the HSE following a prolonged enchantment below Freedom of Info legal guidelines over a 12 months after it was first sought.

The report is predicated on interviews with 400 frontline employees who caught Covid within the first wave of an infection, lots of whom labored in nursing houses or related services.

The main points are revealed in Pandemonium, a brand new ebook on Covid-19 in Eire by journalists Jack Horgan-Jones and Hugh O’Connell, which is revealed this week.


One respondent stated catering workers have been “instructed as a result of they have been younger and wholesome, they didn’t want a masks and [the] facility didn’t need them being examined”. One other stated they felt “betrayed” by the HSE over how private protecting tools (PPE) was distributed.

One other stated they “didn’t really feel absolutely recovered however felt pressured to be again at work”.

One other felt that employees “hid the truth that they have been symptomatic or Covid optimistic so as to proceed working and getting paid”.

One other stated PPE was not really useful for housekeeping workers.

The report particulars how in lots of cases self-isolation and different practices have been good, and headline figures compiled for the report present excessive ranges of compliance in lots of areas.

Nevertheless, it discovered solely about one in 5 services appeared to have IPC (An infection Prevention and Management) coaching earlier than the top of February 2020, and “in over half of the services coaching for each IPC and PPE use was reactive within the context of Covid-19 quite than proactive and a part of ordinary observe”.

One-fifth of respondents stated coaching occurred “across the time” of the outbreak, whereas one other third stated it occurred after the outbreak.

The HSE has stated it had considerations over the methodology used within the report, and that it relied closely on “very detrimental” quotations to assist criticism not throughout the scope of IPC. Regardless of being marked as “closing” the HSE stated it remained in draft format, was by no means permitted and was not submitted to Nphet “because of various unresolved points regarding suggestions from key stakeholders”.

Elder care

The lead investigator was Prof Mary Codd of UCD college of public well being. Respondents have been concerned in frontline work – 81 per cent had direct contact with sufferers, some 40 per cent labored in elder care.

Some services noticed employees from Covid and non-Covid models sharing altering rooms, whereas employees associated cases the place folks awaiting testing outcomes weren’t remoted, nevertheless it was later discovered that “they have been all optimistic”.

The administration of Covid sufferers in some services was criticised – one saying that “if Covid-positive sufferers didn’t wish to transfer to the Covid ward they have been left in their very own rooms on non-Covid wards”.

One other stated they felt let down by IPC the place they labored, saying there was “wide-scale refusing to swab workers, [a] lack of contact tracing throughout the hospital” and that the division was “fobbing them off re: the necessity for PPE”.

https://www.irishtimes.com/information/well being/young-and-healthy-frontline-workers-denied-ppe-during-first-covid-wave-1.4866995

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