CWU supports frontline nursing staff with donation of €70,000 worth of ‘Propolis’ cream to help treat skin damage and irritation from prolonged PPE use

The Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) is to donate €70,000 for the purchase of ‘Propolis’ cream to counter the damaging effects on skin due to the prolonged wearing of PPE by frontline nursing staff treating patients with COVID-19.  This action by the National Executive of the Union is to support nurses in hospitals and Intensive Care Units in a practical way.

Nurses treating patients with COVID-19 must wear PPE, including face masks and visors, while continuously washing and sanitizing their hands to help prevent contact and spread of the virus. Prolonged use of PPE can damage skin and cause irritation and sometimes skin breakage. Propolis cream is a recognised, non-chemical cream that can relieve irritation from skin rash caused from the use of PPE.

Commenting, at the first handover of product to nurses at Naas General Hospital, CWU General Secretary, Steve Fitzpatrick, said:

“The whole nation has been in awe of the courage, dedication and shear professionalism of front line medical staff, including our nurses, doctors, ambulance paramedics and other care givers treating patients throughout this health emergency, often in the face of a significant threat to personal safety.”

“This relatively small donation by the Union is as a result of numerous requests from branches and postal and communications workers across the country to recognise this amazing contribution in a very practical way. The choice of Propolis cream has come from discussions with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and we are delighted to be working with them on this initiative in securing a supply of Propolis cream and in its distribution to frontline nurses. We realise that this donation will only be sufficient for approximately 5,000 nurses across 25 hospitals, but we hope other Unions, groups or employers might consider doing something similar.”

Commenting at Naas General Hospital, Phíl Ní Sheaghdha, General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, said:

“I want to thank our fellow trade unionists in the CWU. Not only did they support us in our dispute last year but they have now donated a huge volume of skin care product to help relieve some of the damage that prolonged use of PPE can have on the skin. I understand that this call came to the CWU from their branches and grass roots membership, ordinary postmen and women and communications workers across the country, and we welcome their continued solidarity during this public health emergency.”

The distribution of ‘Propolis’ cream to nurses in frontline hospitals is being organised through the INMO with the assistance of local CWU Branches.

Mr. Fitzpatrick said CWU members are postal, couriers, and telecommunications workers who have continued to provide delivery and communication services throughout the lockdown. Their work has expanded to include checking on the elderly and invalided living alone and isolating at home, and connecting them with other support services where the need arises.