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19th Apr 2023

Nurses lament removal of facemasks in healthcare settings

Rory Fleming

Facemasks healthcare settings

The decision has been described as “absolutely the wrong move right now”.

As of today, facemasks will no longer be required to be worn in healthcare settings in Ireland.

The measure, which was introduced in early 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic, made masks mandatory in all healthcare settings to help stop the spread of the disease amongst the populations most vulnerable cohorts.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) announced their decision to cease the requirement at the beginning of April, as it announced a fresh wave of public health guidance.

Facemasks have been a requirement in hospitals for the past 3 years. (Credit: Rolling News)

Despite the removal of the requirement to wear masks, the HPSC has said the recommendations will remain in place for certain healthcare settings.

The HPSC stated healthcare workers should use a surgical mask or respirator mask “at a minimum, for interaction with patients with respiratory viral symptoms”.

Adding to that, the HPSC also said at the time that it would be appropriate to move away from universal use of masks for healthcare workers, patients and visitors in healthcare settings “outside of periods of high levels of community transmission”.

Included in their releasing of updated advice was that “a local institutional risk assessment is appropriate to determine the timing of a move away from universal use of masks in that particular location”.

The INMO have described the decision as “absolutely the wrong move”. (Credit: Rolling News)

However, the decision has not been backed by healthcare workers themselves, with the General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) voicing her discontent with its ratification.

“It’s absolutely the wrong move right now”, stated Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

The General Secretary added that people were continuing to get Covid-19 and other transmissible diseases in hospitals because of the overcrowding which has plagued the Irish healthcare system.

In March alone, overcrowding figures reached breaking levels, as just shy of 13,000 patients were treated on trollies and chairs in Irish hospitals.

The news also comes off the back of statistics which highlighted doctors growing frustration with working conditions, with 60% of  graduate doctors in 2022 emigrating to Australia.

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