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Nurses demand details of HSE's Ebola plan

Nurses want to know what contingency plans and alert systems are in place.

Image: Anna Gowthorpe

THE IRISH NURSES and Midwives Organisation has written to HSE chief executive Tony O’Brien demanding practical training and a clear plan on how to deal with a patient suspected of having Ebola.

“It would be normal, standard practice for an employer to give a formal briefing, and the HSE should already have done that,” Phil Ní Sheaghdha, the INMO’s Industrial Relations director told TheJournal.ie this evening.

She said “practical training” should be given, especially regarding decontamination proceedings, which has caused particular concern among nurses following the infection of Spanish nurse Teresa Romero Ramos.

Protective clothing

The INMO have set out a series of questions for O’Brien. They are asking about contingency planning, as well as whether protective clothing has been made available to acute hospitals. Nurses also want to know what alert systems and triage arrangements are in place for suspected cases.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar briefed Cabinet today stating that Ireland’s health system is well prepared in what he said was an unlikely event of an Ebola case. Following the briefing, Chief Medical Officer, Tony Holohan, said:

Ireland is well prepared to deal with the possibility of a case of Ebola, although the risk of that occurring is very low. National plans for dealing with Ebola have existed since 2002. These plans were updated again in 2012, have been tested in a dry run in 2013 and put into operation to ensure we are prepared for the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

He said the plans include information for all front line professionals working in ports, airports and hospitals, as well as arrangements for distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to all front line staff.

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Dealing with Ebola 

He said that the National Ambulance Service (NAS), the National Virus Reference Laboratory and the Environmental Health Officers  also play a key part in the front line capacity to deal with Ebola.

“We have a well organised health system in Ireland and while the risk of a case of Ebola is very low, we are prepared, but not complacent to deal with it should one arise,” he said.

Additional reporting Dan MacGuill 

Read: ‘Worst Ebola epidemic in history’: Medical experts say new treatments need to be fast-tracked>

Read: British airports to introduce Ebola screening>

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