The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said that nurses are to begin training next week for administering the Covid-19 vaccine and said it is vital the health and wellbeing of healthcare workers is protected at this time.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha told RTÉ's Claire Byrne programme that the INMO is engaging twice a week with the Health Service Executive regarding the administration of the vaccine programme, which she said will be nurse-led.
She said that overcrowding remains an issue in hospitals and that this affects social distancing and safe work practices.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said that there has been a very high incidence of healthcare worker infection with 12,500 infections recorded up to this week.
She said that in the coming weeks "we have to ensure hospitals can cope as when people get sick with Covid-19 they get very sick and very fast".
She said that ICUs and acute services are coping but staff are very tired and 'we have to make sure we do not have a situation that develops similar to Northern Ireland'.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said there is huge pressure on rosters for nurses and that with Covid figures "going the wrong way this week and have to ensure healthcare workers are not overwhelmed".
She said that trolley figures went up to 316 recently and this would be worrying even without a pandemic.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said that the INMO is really worried that despite 78 new beds in University Hospital Limerick, overcrowding remains a big issue.
She said the HSE needs to "look under the bonnet" to see why this is continuing.
Also, she said that student nurses have reluctantly accepted the independent review of their allowances.
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