01 Oct 2022

Carlow nurses face 'toxic combination of fatigue and understaffing'

Two-thirds of nurses who recovered from Covid-19 suffering post-viral fatigue

A recent survey by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has found that two-thirds of nurses who contracted Covid-19 are still experiencing post-viral fatigue.

Of the 545 nurses surveyed who have recovered from the virus, 65 per cent continue to suffer fatigue.

A further 91 per cent, or 497 of the 545 nurses, stated they continued to experience symptoms, which also included mental health difficulties, headaches and breathing problems.

Other post-viral symptoms cited by respondents included anxiety, “brain fog”, dizziness, recurring fever and palpitations.

INMO said that 81 per cent of all 7,000 nurses and midwives surveyed, including those who did not contract Covid-19, said that working in the health service during the pandemic substantially or somewhat impacted their mental health.

“Fatigue is a major risk to patient and staff safety – especially in a pandemic. Many of our members are reporting that despite recovery, they are still facing exhaustion,” said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

“The impacts of this virus can be long-lasting, so nurses and midwives returning to work after recovery are going to need support. For many, there will be a long road to full recovery.

“They will also need certainty that past mistakes are being corrected. The government should empower the Health and Safety Authority to investigate cases.

“As winter approaches, frontline staff face a toxic combination of fatigue and understaffing. Safe staffing levels are the only way to ensure that our health service is not overwhelmed. We urgently need a clear plan to ramp up health service capacity before winter hits,” she said.

The INMO will present their findings to the Oireachtas Special Committee on COVID response this morning, Tuesday, highlighting the importance of safe staffing over the coming months.

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