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'Serious concerns' over our Ebola plan

the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine has said it has serious safety concerns surrounding the treatment of potential Ebola patients in Ireland.

Just a day after a woman was placed in an isolation unit at the Mater Hospital amid fears she might have contracted the deadly disease, the group cites overcrowding and insufficient isolation facilities in other hospitals as future dangers should a genuine case arise.

"We have serious safety concerns including the continued crowding of emergency departments with admitted patients on trolleys, insufficient isolation facilities, and the HSE's dependence on locum staff who are less likely to be aware of procedures and have undergone specific training," said a statement by the association today.


It said that while excellent clinical care may well be provided to these patients, Ireland must ensure that it is in a position to safely manage the infection risks presented by a patient with Ebola should one present to any of the country's 29 Emergency Departments.

"We know that infectious diseases spread amongst patients and staff in crowded emergency departments," said the statement.

"The association is therefore not reassured by Department of Health or HSE claims of full preparedness given the current crowding situations in most emergency departments."

The group urged the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, and the Assistant National Director for Emergency Planning, Gavin Maguire, to urgently visit Irish emergency departments to "observe the intolerable levels of crowding".

Yesterday's Ebola scare saw a Nigerian woman being transported from her west Dublin home by ambulance to the isolation unit in the Mater Hospital as the Ebola emergency plan was activated.

However, tests later showed that the woman did not have the disease.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has asked for precautions to be stepped up after some doctors complained they have not had proper training in Ebola management.