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World Patient Safety Day: Ireland Risks Falling Behind in Nurse Welfare

Ireland risks falling behind international standards in protecting frontline nurses from the risks of COVID-19, the INMO has warned.

Following a report by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) for World Patient Safety Day, the INMO has called again for official recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational illness in Ireland. 

Almost half (48%) of governments surveyed by the ICN recognise COVID-19 as a workplace-related disease, yet Ireland has not yet done so. 

The ICN report revealed that health workers make up an approximate average 10% of total infections globally. 

The ICN is calling for:

• Recognition of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace as an occupational illness.

• Standardized international data collection on HCW infections and deaths.

• Sufficient provision of appropriate PPE and evidence-based IPC training for HCWs in all healthcare settings

• Increased mental health support and counselling resources to nurses and other HCWs

INMO Director of Professional and Regulatory Services, Dr Edward Mathews said: “The calls we have been making since the start of the pandemic are shared by nurses around the world. We urgently need recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational illness.  

“International bodies, including the WHO, are focusing on staff safety as a crucial concern in protecting the public from COVID-19, and it is vital that Ireland doesn’t fall below international standards.” 

“It is beyond time for the government to recognise COVID-19 as an occupational illness. Until we do, we simply cannot say that all measures are being taken to ensure healthcare workers’ safety and the safety of the people in their care.” 

“We also need to provide improved psychological support, and prioritised testing for those on the frontline. Nobody should face COVID alone or without support.” 

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