The President of the Irish Health Consultants Association (IHCA) has written to Health Minister, Simon Harris, because of reports of “widespread shortages” of protective clothing and equipment for frontline heath workers. However, the HSE confirmed that new stock had been ordered and was on its way. 

A report in today’s Sunday Business Post reveals that Dr Dónal O’Hanlon wrote to the Minister on behalf of the IHCA warning that stocks of protective equipment stocks were “running out” in some locations, “leaving frontline staff and their patients in extremely exposed positions”.

Dr O’Hanlon’s stark warning that the country might see a large number of “avoidable deaths” if it the shortage was not urgently addressed.

The IHCA surveyed members who reported shortages of respirator masks, while others said goggles or safety spectacles were not available in their healthcare centres, and many said it had not been confirmed when they would arrive.

“If the state fails to provide the necessary PPE, it will be a fundamental cause of a more devastating Covid-19 impact on the country, which will be the direct cause of a large number of avoidable deaths due to frontline doctors and nurses falling sick with the virus, more patients being infected and the depletion of capacity of medical and nursing staff to treat patients,” O‘Hanlon said in his letter according to the Sunday Business Post report.

The HSE said it had placed a €31 million order from China with more to come.

“Doctors need to understand these are not normal circumstances. These are wartime operations – not normal peacetime operations,” Connors told the paper.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Health, 1 in 5 Irish cases of COVID-19 are healthcare workers. A global shortage of protective clothing has raised significant challenges for health services across the globe.