Aontú ‘alarmed’ by staff Covid-19 infections at MUH

Almost half of staff off sick at Mayo University Hospital (MUH) in June cited Covid-19

Lessons need to be learned from the hospital with the greatest proportion of staff in the State off sick as a result of Covid-19 before a second wave arrives, Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín has warned.

Earlier this week (Monday, September 7), Irish Medical Times (IMT) reported how almost half of staff off sick (48% of total absentees) at Mayo University Hospital (MUH) in June cited Covid-19 as the reason why they could not attend work.

MUH is part of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) Hospitals Group, which also includes Galway, Letterkenny, Portiuncula, Roscommon, and Sligo university hospitals.

The latest Health Service Executive (HSE) Absenteeism Report also showed that more than one-fifth (23.3%) of recorded staff sick leave at the RCSI Hospitals Group was as a result of Covid-19 — the second highest figure for a hospital group in Ireland, behind the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group (24.4%).

Last month, a report released by the Department of Health following a Freedom of Information request from Aontú revealed a lack of isolation facilities, crowding in the Emergency Department and a lack of negative pressure rooms and bed capacity at MUH.

The report was commissioned in June by then Minister for Health Simon Harris on foot of concerns from bereaved relatives which were raised in the Dáil by the Aontú leader.

It was also noted in the report that the Castlebar hospital and surrounding hospitals in Mayo were “interdependent” and “two-way traffic” between units was in existence at the beginning of the outbreak.

Speaking to the IMT, Tóibín said while the levels of absent staff from both MUH and the district hospitals were alarming, they must be taken in context.

“The conditions in the hospital, as highlighted in the report, allowed the virus to spread easier,” he said.

“We can see from other documents released to Aontú under Freedom of Information, just how frustrated staff in Castlebar were with hospital management during the height of the pandemic.”

“I think we really need to reflect, in light of this report, on ways we can improve our hospitals and systems so as to avoid a repeat of what we saw in Mayo, if we are to be hit with a second wave of Covid-19,” Tóibín added.

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