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Health Service needs to prepare for challenging winter- Burton

26 October 2017

Statement by Joan Burton TD
Spokesperson on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Arts

Labour TD Joan Burton has said the country needs to prepare for the possibility of a challenging winter ahead for the health service.

Deputy Burton said:

“Just as the country recently prepared for Storm Ophelia in terms of public announcements and putting safeguard arrangements in place, we need to now prepare for what could turn out to be one of the most challenging winters facing the health service in decades.

 “All the indications are that Ireland is at high risk of facing a serious health crisis this winter from a combination of the flu epidemic and concerns over the spread of the superbug CPE.

“I’m therefore calling on the Minister for Health to establish a single taskforce to deal with the possibility of a deadly combination of the two.

 “It also means that community care is going to be more important than ever this winter, so the most vulnerable people in particular won’t have to attend hospital.

“The national public health emergency team needs to be convened to deal with this risk; we also need advice for families and people at home, for institutions such as nursing homes and day care centres, and obviously for all health care facilities.

“Efforts need to be stepped up to ensure the public health information campaign message is getting through to health care workers and those working with elderly people in particular.

“Speaking as someone who has had the vaccine, I am aware that while it doesn’t give complete protection against the Australian strain of the flu virus, it does give a significant level of protection.

“It’s vital that we have clear thinking about keeping all of our health services open and functioning.

“The Minister needs to keep under review hygiene and cleaning arrangements in relations to hospitals and hospital staff so every effort is made to minimise the risk of infection.”