Teachta Browne said:
“The Health Minister needs to intervene after the HSE told nursing unions yesterday that they will
not be providing nurses with high-level protection masks as standard, and that they will only be
offered to nurses who request them.
“This is an unacceptable response to a sector who have been working in incredibly difficult and
stressful situations since the onset of Covid-19 and who are facing into a new and unprecedented
Covid wave with the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant.
“We are being told repeatedly to expect a surge in hospital demand this winter due to the new
variant. We are told of the importance of wearing the most effective masks that we can get. Yet for
some reason, the HSE is refusing to comply with these standards when it comes to ensuring the
safety of hospital staff.
“This is a fundamental contradiction in messaging on the part of the HSE who are advising us to take
every precaution possible but are not willing to take their own advice when it comes to their
responsibility for our nurses’ safety.
“Nurses are under huge pressure at great risk to themselves. They should not have to ask that they
be provided with the safety that these masks provide.
“We are also being told of concerns at the potential for increased staff absences due to infection and
the impact this would have on hospital services. Issuing all staff with these masks as standard would
help to minimise this possibility.
“The HSE must also address the concerns that have been voiced by staff members at ongoing
ventilation issues in some hospitals.
“I have written to the Minister for Health, calling for him to intervene and for common sense to