Rapid, independent inquiry into healthcare worker infection needed

A rapid, independent inquiry into high rates of healthcare worker infection is now needed, the INMO has said today (Saturday).

32% of all COVID-19 cases in Ireland are among healthcare workers, as of 26th May. 

Previous figures released to the INMO in April show that 35% of infected healthcare workers are nurses – the largest single group of healthcare workers. 

If this pattern has continued into May, the figures suggest that more than 1 in 10 COVID-19 cases in Ireland have been nurses.

The union has repeatedly called for the regular publication of detailed statistics on healthcare worker infection, to better identify how the virus is being transmitted, and to take steps to eliminate infection risk.

An INMO letter to the HSE Chief Clinical Officer, states:

“We are not satisfied with the level of detail available to date and therefore we advise that at this stage, it is a matter of such concern that it warrants immediate independent scrutiny. We will now seek that the Minister for Health establishes such a review.”

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:

“Healthcare workers make up a third of COVID-19 cases in Ireland. This is an unacceptably high rate, indicating that something is going wrong on the frontlines. Other countries see far lower rates of infection.

“To fix a problem, you need clear data. We have asked time and time again for the HSE to publish clear, detailed statistics on healthcare worker infection. This could tell us which services are worst-hit and where needs focused action.

“We have not received a satisfactory response. The state is asking our members to put their lives at risk to defeat this virus. The very least they can do is provide clear information to allay fears and resolve problems. 

“A culture of secrecy will only lead to more unnecessary infections.

“The INMO will be meeting with the Minister for Health next week. We will seek an urgent, independent inquiry into healthcare worker infection rates.”


Notes to Editors:
As of midnight on the 26th May, 7,920 healthcare workers have tested positive. Source: HSPC/HSE figures here


Analysis from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on Europe-wide suggests healthcare worker infection rates of 3% in the USA, 4% in China, 10% in Italy, and 20% in Spain. Source: Page 10 of their latest rapid risk assessment:


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