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Conway-Walsh demands better PPE for public health nurses

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‘COMMUNITY CARE HAS NEVER BEEN SO VITAL’ Rose Conway-Walsh, TD, Sinn Féin. 

Anton McNulty

Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway-Walsh has called on the HSE to ensure that sufficient personal protection equipment (PPE) is available to public health nurses working in the community.
The Erris-based TD said she has been contacted on numerous occasions by public health nurses who feel they do not have enough PPE to be able to do their job safely.
“I have public healthcare nurses contacting me who don’t have sufficient PPE for them to be able to do their jobs in the community. Community care has never been so vital because one of the jobs of the public health nurse is to visit mothers coming out of hospital with their newborn babies.
“In normal times, mothers who have delivered their babies under caesarean section would be kept in for four or five days. They are now being let out after a day, which makes the role of the public health nurse even more important than it was before.
“If we are asking public health nurses to go into these homes to do such a delicate job we have to ensure they have the proper protective gear. They have to be able to protect themselves and the mothers and newborn babies,” she said.

No masks, goggles
Ireland has received several deliveries of PPE from China since the beginning of April but there has been concerns with one of the shipments, which did not meet specific HSE requirements. Deputy Conway-Walsh said that despite the delivery of €208 million worth of PPE she is still receiving calls from community healthcare workers saying that they are finding it difficult to get adequate PPE.
“There are dozens [of community healthcare nurses] contacting me every day to say they don’t have the gear to carry out their job in a safe manner. Sometimes they will have an apron but they won’t have a mask or goggles, and what good is that? They say they don’t have what makes them feel safe. They need to be able to concentrate fully on the job and feel safe while doing it.
“There is no point showing us pictures on our national television station of planes and interviewing pilots and pictures of warehouses. I just want to know, will each individual nurse in our community and care worker in our hospital have the proper gear?” she said.
Deputy Conway-Walsh added that PPE should be distributed into the communities to be freely available to public health workers.
She further added that she would also be asking the HSE and Department of Health for clarification regarding home-help care during the current crisis, saying she did not want the coronavirus to be used as an excuse to cut home-help services.