Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe TD has said that the findings of a study into the presence of COVID antibodies among staff of Tallaght University Hospital which showed that 18% of staff had contracted COVID at some point demonstrated that we failed and continue to fail many of our frontline healthcare staff.

Teachta Crowe said:

“It is absolutely shocking that 18% of staff in Tallaght University Hospital were found to have COVID antibodies. This is almost double the number who were known to have contracted the virus previously.

“In the Oireachtas Health Committee last week, IMNO General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha gave evidence that, across the state, 50 nurses a week are contracting COVID-19. This is a dereliction of duty by the state towards its healthcare staff and a totally unsustainable way of managing the health service given that these nurses are unable to care for those who need healthcare in the midst of a pandemic.

“We still don’t know what the longterm effects of COVID are on the body. There is a strong possibility of loss of lung capacity, damage to the cardiovascular system, fatigue, and serious impact on the senses of taste and smell. Other viruses of this type can have lingering effects that persist for years after infection and delay recovery. This does not take in the very real and immediate risk to life that contracting COVID currently presents.

“We have failed to protect our frontline healthcare workers. At the beginning of this pandemic, some workers were forced to resort to wearing painters overalls as PPE, others were told not to wear PPE at all as it might frighten patients or presented the wrong message.

“We cannot simply chalk this down to the cost of doing business. There is clearly now an added responsibility on government to approach things differently. They need to put forward a plan to both protect healthcare workers more effectively during the pandemic and equally important address how we are going to help and support the large number of healthcare workers who have contracted this deadly virus in their place of work through no fault of their own.”