Public sector nurses redeployed to "bail out" private nursing homes
"These patients need to be looked after."
The HSE has announced that many of its nurses, physios and occupational therapists have volunteered to work in private nursing facilities to ease the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio One on Wednesday morning, Tony Fitzpatrick, Director of Industrial Relations with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said:
"In an emergency, once they've gone through appropriate procedures, the private provider cannot provide the staff in any way having searched for additional staff in, that emergency situation public sector staff will assist and bail out the private nursing home sector with regards to ensure that patients are looked after, and that's the number one priority."
Fiztpatrick went on to say that the move was for the good of patients, many of whom are suffering with the virus in private nursing homes and care facilities.
"We have insisted that a minimum of two staff go on any one occasion, and that's vitally important because these patients need to be looked after," he said.
"Private nursing homes and the older persons section is at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 because the biggest impact is being felt there."
Many of Ireland's confirmed cases and deaths relating to Covid-19 have occurred in nursing homes. Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said: "We remain concerned about the prevalence of COVID-19 in nursing homes and residential care settings.
"The National Public Health Emergency Team is monitoring developments in these facilities and continues to advance supports and actions where needed."
Fitzpatrick said that the deal emphasises the need for further investment in public healthcare, as it relies on them to "bail out" private facilities.
"It always fall back on the public sector to bail out, particularly in the private sector, when things fall apart and that's what we're seeing here again... when Covid is over we need massive investment in Sláintecare to ensure the public provision of health care going forward."
So far, 406 people have died from Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland, with the median age of the deceased over 80.