"As Key Hospital Service are Shut Down, Where are the 70,000 “Call for Ireland Volunteers?" - Tóibín
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has called on the Department of Health to clarify the status of the 'Be On Call For Ireland' database. Deputy Tóibín said:
"In recent days Aontú has been contacted by many nurses who've shared alarming accounts of their experiences in hospital wards at the current time. Staff shortages, and lack of accommodation seem to be the big issues. Back at the start of the crisis, Minister Harris and the HSE launched a campaign to 'Be on Call for Ireland'. In excess of 70,000 people signed up, but by August, only 200 had been given a role in the health service. The situation in hospitals across the country right now is bleak, with huge shortages of staff, due the high volumes of staff who are at home either sick with Covid-19 or because they've been identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive".
Deputy Tóibín continued "Nurses have been crying on the phone relaying their experiences to us, about how they've been left to try to run entire wards by themselves. They talk of patients who require physiotherapy for their survival, who cannot receive therapy and are being left in bed, due to the shortage of staff. These patients, the nurses say, may end up in ICU as a consequence. One student nurse that was in touch with Aontú spoke of how she couldn't sleep last night from the guilt of having taken one fifteen minute lunch during her 12 hour shift yesterday. Another spoke of the fear he had of returning home to his vulnerable mother each night after working in such hazardous conditions".
"Hospitals are in chaos, with staffing levels so obliterated that in many instances it is not possible to provide updates by way of phone call to family members of inpatients for weeks on end. We need more staff, urgently. We also need the government to provide accommodation for nurses and doctors so that they don't need to return home to their families each night. These problems are fixable. We have numerous empty hotels. We have a database that was announced by Simon Harris to great fanfare a few months ago, floating around somewhere between the Department of Health and the HSE with 70,000 people who signed up to be on call for Ireland. Where is that database, and has it been tapped into?"
"It is important that no hospital or nursing home staff are left abandoned without HSE assistance. It is pivotal too, that the health service continues to treat stroke, heart and cancer patients. The health service must remain open, otherwise non Covid deaths increase radically. During the first lockdown, I myself developed cancer. I was hesitant about going to my GP, given that all the focus was on Covid-19, but it is so important that people do seek help. Cancer, heart disease, stroke and mental ill health wreak so much damage in terms of mortality and morbidity. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment are vitally important", concluded Tóibín.