Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Health): Statements
Simon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
Just to say at the outset, the Deputy raised the question last week of the over-70s being able to participate in tennis, golf and so on. We were able to clarify that this is the case.
I have not yet seen the letter from Beaumont Hospital to which the Deputy referred, but I will make sure I see it straight after this and I will respond to the Deputy and to the letter. It is important to say that one of the reasons we are reading today about the HIQA report on acute hospital infection prevention and control preparedness - I thank the authority for publishing it and the transparent way it went about it, so that there is no need for freedom of information requests and so on - is that it was requested by NPHET in recognition of the fact that we cannot talk about everybody else having to manage infection control and not get on top of it in our health service. It will help to surface the challenges we are going to need to face.
HIQA points in the report to the progress that has been made, particularly during the Covid-19 period, to expand the infection prevention and control capacity and capability in acute hospitals, and this is no doubt an assistance in our efforts. However, it also identifies common challenges across hospitals in relation to access to PPE, which will become a bigger issue as we commence more services, testing kits and consumables. It draws particular attention to the need for additional supports for the UL hospital group and the South/South West hospital group. My Department is now working with the HSE on the implementation of practical measures to address each of the risks. In fact, I wrote back only today asking to receive an update on that next week in terms of how we are getting on with the implementation of each of those recommendations.
I also intend to pursue it at my weekly meeting with the HSE next week.