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College President praises ‘cohesive’ response to pandemic

By Mindo - 20th Apr 2020

The President of the College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland has told this newspaper he is not aware of any shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) affecting the specialty.

The availability of PPE for healthcare workers has been a constant source of concern from the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. HSE CEO Mr Paul Reid recently admitted that 20 per cent of the first batch of equipment procured from China was not suitable for use in a healthcare setting.

However, speaking exclusively to the Medical Independent (MI) on 7 April, Dr Brian Kinirons, who works as a Consultant Anaesthesiologist in University Hospital Galway, said anaesthesiologists currently had sufficient PPE to conduct their duties in intensive care units.

“I am on the frontline, I’m currently working in a Covid ICU and I use PPE on a daily basis,” he told MI.

“At a local level, there has been no shortage of PPE. Again, speaking to a wider community, I’m very conscious of the risks of exposing our healthcare workers, and I don’t hear voices coming back to me saying this is a huge problem in individual hospitals.

“I’m very conscious there was a big consignment recently imported. It was a challenge for the Government because the market is saturated in terms of demand and getting the material in itself is difficult and there were concerns, not necessarily about the quantity, but about the quality of the material. All I can tell you is that there seems to be adequate PPE at a local level and I haven’t heard any hospital say that they’ve run out of PPE.”

Anaesthesiology is a high-risk specialty with regard to Covid-19 as anaesthesiologists are responsible for intubation, which allows a critically-ill patient to be placed on a ventilator.

The procedure carries the risk of droplet exposure due to close proximity with the patient’s mouth, while the production of aerosols of respiratory secretions also carry an increased risk of transmission.

Overall, Dr Kinirons was highly complimentary of the Irish response to the pandemic, remarking on the “cohesion” between different parts of the health service.

“I think the HSE and the Department of Health are to be commended for their actions in relation to Covid-19,” he said.

“I think no healthcare system is ready for a pandemic and I think at a national level, the HSE has shown a capacity for decision-making and leadership which has been very, very positive.”

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