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Healthcare regulators brace for Covid-19

By Mindo - 06th Mar 2020

Healthcare regulators are preparing for the potential impact of Covid-19, the Medical Independent (MI) can report.

HIQA is represented on the national public health emergency team, through which it has assisted national planning and coordination efforts since early February.

“Through ongoing representation on this team and its associated subgroups, HIQA will continue to contribute to national efforts to address the emerging challenges presented by this virus, including those that may arise in nursing homes and disability centres,” a spokesperson for HIQA told MI.

With regard to its employees, the spokesperson said HIQA staff are expected at all times to follow good hand-hygiene practices and to take precautions to avoid the spread of infection.

An internal working group has been established to determine the implications of the current Covid-19 situation, and to minimise the potential impact on its work. 

“HIQA’s business continuity plan is regularly updated, and we are exploring the expansion of alternative working arrangements if required,” according to the spokesperson.

“Our position on these matters will be informed by updated information provided by public health officials.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Mental Health Commission (MHC) told MI the Commission is continuing to monitor the situation in relation to Covid-19 with regard to any areas that fall under its remit.

“We are currently following, and will continue to follow, all health information, advice and guidelines from the Department of Health, and the HSE,” the MHC spokesperson said.

“It should also be noted that there is a communications and risk escalation protocol between the MHC and the HSE that ensures that any issue can be communicated, addressed, and/or escalated to the appropriate level in the event that it relates to the four functions of the MHC. The relevant teams within the MHC are reviewing the possible impact on certain functions and plans are being prepared in relation to these.”

When MI asked the HSE about business continuity planning and the advice the Executive is giving staff in its administrative offices in relation to the current outbreak, a spokesperson replied: “Please be advised that the HSE and the Department of Health are not providing information about individual activations of preparedness plans or about individual cases of Covid-19 (coronavirus) other than confirmed cases. The approach which has been taken to date in Ireland is in line with guidance from the WHO and ECDC [European Centre for Disease Control].

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