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Fury as private hospitals get vaccine while public staff left to plead for help

  • Frightened nurses post video online asking Taoiseach to tell them why they're waiting on jab

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Minister Stephen Donnelly

Minister Stephen Donnelly

Minister Stephen Donnelly

There is growing anger over the vaccination of staff in private hospitals and clinics ahead of frontline public healthcare workers.

Private healthcare nurses and doctors have been vaccinated in the last week under the HSE's National Vaccination Programme.

Meanwhile, public healthcare workers have been forced to beg the Government for vaccines as Covid ravages hospital wards.

Refusing

Public hospitals have been treating the vast majority of the record number of new coronavirus cases.

Under a recent Government deal, private hospitals said they would allow just 30pc of their wards to be used to treat non-Covid patients.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is refusing to address the controversy despite the public healthcare service facing its biggest crisis since the start of the pandemic.

Yesterday, Labour Party leader Alan Kelly said it is "scandalous and completely wrong" that private healthcare staff are being vaccinated ahead of public nurses and doctors who are dealing with rocketing numbers of Covid cases every day.

And in an extraordinary development nurses in Nenagh Hospital in Tipperary published a video online in which they pleaded with the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister Donnelly to tell them why they had not yet been vaccinated.

In the video, Nenagh clinical nurse manager Louise Morgan Walsh said: "We are so angry, we are scared, we are afraid, we can see our co-workers going down with Covid and becoming very ill."

It comes as it emerged nurses and doctors in the exclusive Hermitage Medical Clinic in Dublin have been vaccinated.

The Hermitage said 200 staff were vaccinated in line with the HSE's plan to prioritise those who are working in acute settings caring for patients.

It has been reported staff in the Bon Secours private hospital group have also been vaccinated.

Staff working in the Beacon Hospital in Dublin were also given vaccines as the hospital is being used as vaccination centre for healthcare workers.

Surge

The Beacon said it is not charging the HSE for use of its "state-of-the-art" vaccination centre and said staff volunteered to administer the vaccine.

However, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said he is concerned that the Denis O'Brien-owned Beacon was chosen as a vaccine centre after the hospital refused to sign a deal which would see some of their bed capacity taken over by the State to deal with the record surge in Covid cases.

Mr Reid is understood to be furious that he was blind-sided by news that the Beacon was to be used after the HSE announced it.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar suggested the deal could be reviewed if there was a review clause in the contract.

However, there is no review clause.

Mr Varadkar said designating the Beacon as a vaccination centre is "at odds" with the hospital's refusal to sign a deal that would give the HSE extra capacity.

Fine Gael Seanad leader Regina Doherty said it is "disrespectful" that Mr Donnelly is refusing to publicly address the issue and said the Beacon deal should be reversed.

A HSE spokesperson said: "The programme of vaccinating frontline healthcare workers against Covid-19 makes no distinction between them, whether they work in the community or in hospitals or in private or public healthcare."


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