Unjabbed nurses may be taken off frontline duties

26% of all vaccinations in the first three weeks of October were first time jabs

Cavan and Monaghan hospitals could follow others across the country by reassigning unvaccinated nurses and other workers away from the frontline.

The Anglo-Celt understands that management at Cavan General Hospital has been mulling over an unwritten directive from its parent RCSI Group to redeploy unvaccinated medical staff to other areas of the service.

Already unvaccinated agency nurses have been told they can no longer work for public hospitals or the Health Service Executive (HSE), according to reports following a leaked internal email last August.

It stated that the HSE and all the hospitals groups must now insist that the Covid-19 vaccine must be added immediately to the list of required vaccines for all agency staff.

Vaccinations are not mandatory for staff employed directly by the HSE but close to 96% of all workers at Cavan General Hospital are inoculated against Covid-19, the Celt has learned.

There has been a concerning increase in COVID-19 cases in public healthcare settings in recent weeks, sparking fears of hospital outbreaks in difficult winter months when facilities are under increased pressure.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) says the “overwhelming majority” of healthcare workers have been vaccinated.

“In the case of healthcare workers who are unvaccinated, healthcare unions have negotiated with the employer a risk assessment protocol, which is under regular review,” confirmed a spokesperson.

SIPTU, which represents non-medical support staff, and the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) have been contacted for comment, as has the RCSI Group also.

Booster update

The INMO meanwhile welcomed Monday’s announcement (November 1) to extend vaccine boosters to healthcare workers. It follows a recommendation by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

“This decision was made later than we would have liked. We now need to see a rapid rollout of the vaccine boosters to healthcare workers to make up for lost time. The vaccine supply and capacity to do so is there,” said a spokesperson.

“A lot needs to happen now to keep our hospitals safe for the winter. We can see from today’s trolley figures and the number of healthcare workers who are on Covid-related leave that, unless the Minister for Health and the HSE produce a credible winter plan, that our hospitals will be in a bad place this winter.”

Last Monday also saw the Health Protection Surveillance Centre notified of 2,855 new confirmed Covid cases, with 515 patients hospitalised, 91 of whom were in ICU.

There are currently eight inpatients with Covid at Cavan General, with one person being treated in ICU or the hospital’s high dependency unit.

First-time vaccinations

According to the HSE, more than a quarter (26%) of all vaccinations delivered in the first three weeks of October were first time jabs.

The Cavan Vaccination Centre at the Hotel Kilmore administered 444 first-time vaccines up to October 23, with 292 delivered at the Glencarn Hotel in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.

In total 1,717 vaccination doses were administered in Cavan, where staff are already now engaged in assisting the roll-out of the booster programme in the Cavan area.