News & Media

Answers needed on why Covid testing centre will close due to staff shortages

23 October 2020

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Health and Disability Services
AlanK
  • Donnelly needs to address the impact this will have on testing and what contingency measures will be put in place

Answers are needed on the National Virus Reference Laboratory testing facility, the country’s largest Covid-19 testing facility will close for two weekends due to staff shortages according to Labour Leader Alan Kelly.

Deputy Kelly said that Minister Donnelly needs address the impact this will have on the testing system and outline what contingency measures will be put in place to ensure that this does not adversely impact and the delay the processing of Covid tests.

Deputy Kelly said:

“This is extremely concerning at a time when we are processing a record number of tests and case numbers are so high. Minister Donnelly needs to state how this will affect the processing of tests and outline what contingency measures will be put in place to ensure that all Covid tests are processed in a timely manner.

“This is very serious and should not be happening in the middle of a second Covid surge and doubling concerning in light of the effective collapse in the tracing system last weekend. Minister Donnelly needs to make an urgent statement outlining how he proposes to rectify this and what measures he will put in place to ensure that this does not happen again.

“The National Virus Reference Laboratory carried out most of the testing until a number of months ago and it should not be forced to close due to staff shortages. This is the second staffing issue within less than a week after the tracing debacle last weekend. When the former Minister Simon Harris announced the Be on Call for Ireland initiative last March it was intended that the scheme would recruit the necessary staff to allow the health service to cope with this pandemic. However, only 209 people were actually hired.

“Minister Donnelly is evidently asleep at the wheel. He needs to tell us when he was first informed about this staffing issue at the National Virus Reference Laboratory, the measures he proposes to remedy the situation and what contingency plans are in place to ensure that this does not adversely impact testing.