29 May 2022

Carlow TD refuses to answer questions on claims some PPE 'not fit for purpose' in St Luke's

The Ireland East Hospital Group have refuted the Fianna Fáil TD's claims

Carlow Carlow Carlow

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor, TD

Carlow TD, Jennifer Murnane O'Connor, has refused to answer questions on claims made by her that some Personal Protective Equipment in St Luke's is "not fit for purpose". 

The Fianna Fáil TD made the claims on KCLR last week about the standard of PPE at the Carlow/Kilkenny hospital. 

She said that some staff are "wearing gowns, boiler suits that are not fit for purpose". 

Deputy Murnane O'Connor added: "Now, boiler suits are fine and all if you wanted to go out and paint a wall or if you were getting a fill of oil maybe.

"But these boiler suits that some staff are wearing because they don't have the proper gowns, they're not the proper gowns that stop infection and it's a worry."

Carlow Live has again contacted Ireland East Hospital Group - of which St Luke's is a member - about the claims made by the Fianna Fáil TD.

In a statement on Monday morning, IEHG said: "To be clear, boiler suits were in the first shipment of PPE from China and are infection control approved.

"While boiler suits are not something that hospitals in Ireland are used to wearing, they are infection control approved.  

"As you are aware, PPE continues to be very difficult to source and IEHG and the HSE are competing Globally for supplies.   However, the Ireland East Hospital Group have sourced a large supply of gowns which have been distributed to our hospitals.

"No PPE goes into our hospitals which is not infection control approved. As I said, while boiler suits may not have been ideal and something our hospitals were used to, it was infection control approved.  

"In the absence of gowns which have been difficult to procure, as it is with all PPE, due to global competition, some hospitals have had to use the infection control approved boiler suits.

"We have now secured a large order of gowns which are preferred in our hospitals."

In a statement on Saturday, IEHG said: "The Ireland East Hospital Group, working with the HSE, are working continuously to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of PPE for all Hospitals in the Ireland East Hospital Group.   

"All PPE provided to hospitals must be infection control approved.  

"PPE which is not approved cannot be used in hospitals."

Carlow Live put a series of questions to the Deputy about her claims and the statement made by IEHG on Saturday morning to this website. 

It was put to the Deputy that IEHG issued a statement - which had been promptly read out after her interview on KCLR - clarifying that all equipment used in St Luke's is "infection control approved".

Carlow Live asked her if she accepted the statement by IEHG or if she maintained her claim that some staff were wearing PPE that was "not fit for purpose".

It was put to Deputy Murnane O'Connor that based on the hospital's statement, it would appear her claims were inaccurate. 

She was then asked: "Do you accept that or can you provide proof to corroborate your allegations? 

"If you can provide evidence, with a picture or otherwise, how do you know the gear in the picture is not approved PPE gear?

"Is it possible that the images you were provided with were not inadequate 'boiler suits' but actually, they were of approved PPE gear?

"If you accept your information is wrong, is it not dangerous as a local TD to go on radio without confirming very serious allegations against a hospital in a time when there is a national pandemic?

"Do you accept that such misinformation during this crisis is unhelpful, dangerous and unnecessarily panics the public, the staff at St Luke's and their loved ones?"

Carlow Live contacted Deputy Murnane O'Connor and the Fianna Fáil press office on Saturday morning and a statement was issued to this website on Monday. 

The statement does not address any of the questions raised above but Deputy Murnane O'Connor said: "A number of days ago I was contacted by some healthcare workers in St Luke’s Hospital.

"They informed me that they were scared for their health and that of their patients as a result of the PPE which they had been given. They described it to me as like 'boiler suits' and said it was not the correct PPE.

"As a public representative it is my job to raise the concerns of my constituents. I contacted the local Government minister with and told him of the concerns they had shared with me and I asked that he do all he can to help them.

"I was contacted recently by the same healthcare workers who thanked me for raising their concerns. They informed me they had now received the correct PPE just a couple of days ago and that they were much more confident in providing care as a result.

"The provision of PPE is an issue which has been raised by my colleagues and indeed politicians from all parties and none on a continuous basis.

"We know there have been major shortages throughout the entire health sector so when healthcare workers come to us with their concerns, we listen to them and we take them very seriously."

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