Dáil debates

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Covid-19 (Health): Statements

 

6:25 pm

Photo of Michael CollinsMichael Collins (Cork South West, Independent)

Healthcare workers have been heroes since the outbreak of the coronavirus throughout the country. During recent weeks, essential front-line healthcare workers from various parts of my constituency and beyond have contacted me to express their concerns about the fact they have no time to do homework with their children. They are worried that come September, when schools reopen, their children will have fallen behind. The parents of some children were home full time to offer them support and home educate them but these were not. Many healthcare workers work 12 hour shifts and have little time with their children. Some were even forced to isolate from their children when at home to prevent the potential spread of the virus within their homes. What provisions are in place for the children of these healthcare workers?

I propose that they should be given additional support in tandem with the July provision scheme already being rolled out for children with additional needs. These schemes should be run simultaneously in primary schools across the country.

I would like to concentrate in my second question on coronavirus testing and the need to get tests carried out quickly with same-day or next-day results. I have had all too many calls with people waiting for days and weeks to get results so they can get cancer treatment or other urgent procedures done. The State has sent samples to Germany to speed up results. This whole process came at a great cost as a PC-12 aircraft had to be acquired by the Air Corps. No one would argue with that until now we find out that if a small bit of investment was made, labs in Ireland could have given us thousands of same-day or next-morning results at a fraction of the cost. I refer to excellently run companies like Animal Health Laboratories Limited in Bandon which is giving same-day or next-morning results for the HSE on a small scale. With a little support it could turn out thousands of results weekly, saving the State millions of euro and saving lives. Can the Department of Health look deeper at companies like Animal Health to carry out tests in this country, thus creating badly-needed employment and saving the State significant costs and probably saving lives?

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