Covid overcrowding is leading to more assaults on hospital staff, health workers warn as they plead for mask rules to return

Hospital staff are facing an increase in assaults from angry patients as the wave of Covid-19 has triggered unprecedented delays creating dangerous conditions, doctors and nurses warned today.

And although half of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 are there for another illness, they are at risk of transmitting the virus to other vulnerable people, the Oireachtas health committee said.

The grim picture of chaos in hospitals across the country was painted today by Dr Fergal Hickey of the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization (INMO).

INMO’s Phil Ní Sheaghdha said an increasing number of patients or those accompanying them are venting their frustrations on staff who are facing an increase in the number of assaults with most nurses being victimized.

They have called on Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan to publicly say what the reason is for no longer making masks compulsory and they want an end to the situation where Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is giving his “second-hand” advice “.

They described how delays in emergency department waiting rooms are so grueling that patients deteriorate and become very sick.

Dr Hickey said there is a serious risk of cross-infection as other patients whose care is canceled deteriorate at home.

At the same time, patients suffer from delayed diagnosis of cancer.

Patients on the waiting list for the removal of a gallbladder whose surgery is canceled end up in the emergency room when their condition deteriorates, also warned the INMO.

The two organizations reiterated their call for the wearing of masks to be compulsory indoors and in gathering places. They want working from home to be renewed.

This was ruled out by Taoiseach Micheal Martin and the Minister of Health.

Dr Hickey said: ‘The situation in Irish hospitals at the moment is the worst that many of my colleagues and I have seen in our careers. The current situation is intolerable for all those who work in our hospitals. Our hospitals are bound by a thread of staff goodwill, but that is about to break.

“The problem of overcrowding at this level is not a new phenomenon in our hospitals.

Health professionals have been sounding the alarm for a long time. Stronger immediate public health measures are needed – failure to do so and abandoning hospitals to the inevitable will lead to unnecessarily higher and preventable levels of disease, requiring hospitalization and, unfortunately for some, a fatal outcome. Hospitals are currently unsafe for patients or staff due to the level of overcrowding and Covid-19 infection levels.

Dr Hickey added: ‘It has been repeatedly and robustly proven over the last few decades that ER overcrowding leads to 30-day excess mortality for all patients and recently published UK research confirms that the delay in Admission is, in itself, a preventable cause of death. to the patient subjected to this long wait, regardless of the overall level of congestion.

Karen McGowan, INMO President and Emergency Nurse at Beaumont Hospital, said: “When senior medical and nursing clinicians sound the alarm at this point, someone needs to stop and pay attention. Between our two organisations, we have called on government and senior public health officials to take action when it comes to implementing public health advice.

“Our members currently feel like they’re not getting any support and being left alone to deal with the worst of this virus. If staff say that’s how dangerous it is, well, everyone can’t stay silent.

“The government cannot put their head in the sand, Covid-19 is still a very dangerous and highly transmissible virus that over 1,600 people in hospitals are infected with the virus.”

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