The vast majority of nurses who have contracted Covid-19 continue to suffer from a range of conditions including mental health difficulties, headaches and breathing problems, a survey of staff has found.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which conducted a study of thousands of nurses, said two-thirds of the 545 who have "recovered" continue to suffer fatigue.
Most staff – 91 per cent – experience ongoing problems post-recovery, with other issues including anxiety, “brain fog”, dizziness, recurring fever and palpitations, the surveyt found.
Mental health issues are also said to be affecting nursing staff as an apparent consequence of the pandemic in Irish hospitals. The INMO said 81 per cent of 7,000 nurses and midwives surveyed, including many who did not contract the virus, found working during the outbreak had affected them.
The INMO will present its findings to the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid response on Tuesday in an effort to press home the importance of "safe staffing" over the coming months. The delegation will include a Dublin staff nurse who is facing ongoing symptoms of the illness.
“Fatigue is a major risk to patient and staff safety – especially in a pandemic. Many of our members are reporting that despite recovery, they are still facing exhaustion,” INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said in a statement ahead of the committee appearance.
“The impacts of this virus can be long-lasting, so nurses and midwives returning to work after recovery are going to need support. For many, there will be a long road to full recovery.”
The INMO has asked that the government empower the Health and Safety Authority to investigate cases of virus outbreaks, and to address any staffing shortages in the healthcare system as winter approaches.
“We urgently need a clear plan to ramp up health service capacity before winter hits,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha said.