APPRECIATION in politics is so rare and extremely thinly spread. But when a service or issue calls for urgent action with ramifications for the public — and those who depend on their voices — it can be laid on thick as syrup.
Remember then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” tribute to the health workers who were on their feet?
Times and circumstances change. The same health workers are still on their feet, but the government, now under Taoiseach Micheál Martin, with the full support of Tánaiste Mr Varadkar, appears to have little regard for the needs or concerns of health workers.
A joint appeal by emergency doctors, nurses and midwives for the return of the mask requirement was quickly rejected.
According to Mr Martin and his Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly, the logic is that the BA.2 variant is simply too contagious to be stopped.
Overworked doctors and nurses fully appreciate the unstoppable wave.
But they believe it can at least be reduced and that masks can play a crucial role in reducing the number of patients filling their emergency room. Staff is overwhelmed. “We’ve never seen anything like it,” said Phil Ni Sheaghdha, Secretary General of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization.
She told RTÉ the trolley situation is unprecedented with exceptionally long wait times. Patients get sick while waiting to be seen.
The President of the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM), Fergal Hickey said the situation in our hospitals is the worst he’s seen in his career.
“The current situation is unbearable for everyone who works in our hospitals,” he said.
What makes the situation all the more worrying is that the wave has not yet peaked. Exhausted employees are even more stressed.
With the safety and well-being of patients and staff at stake, the lack of new government action or guidance becomes all the more inexplicable.
Experts like Luke O’Neill, Professor of Biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin, are also worried about the lack of an answer.
“I think masks will slow it down. I mean, the big problem now is that the healthcare system is under pressure, isn’t it? We hear that a lot,” he said.
He believes wearing masks for the next three to four weeks could make a big difference in relieving hospitals.
Doing nothing in times of crisis is inevitably associated with high costs. Living with Covid – and let’s face it, this virus or its variants will likely be around for years to come – means we must do everything we can to protect medical staff.
The burden on hospitals is an important aspect of public health.
We need a public health strategy that supports frontline workers and is tailored to respond to surges more quickly and effectively.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/our-hospitals-are-yet-again-under-unacceptable-strain-41508906.html Our hospitals are again under unreasonable burdens