19/05/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole

SIPTU demands government action to combat the rising numbers of health workers testing positive for Covid-19

SIPTU Health Division representatives have today (Tuesday, 19th May) demanded that the Government publishes a full and transparent breakdown of the health settings where over 7,600 workers have now tested positive for Covid-19.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser Paul Bell said: “SIPTU representatives first called for this data to be released in early April. Since then, we have seen the number of cases of health workers infected with Covid-19 increase eightfold. The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, must instruct his public health officials to issue a full and transparent breakdown that identifies these health settings and protects workers on the frontline. Our members urgently need to know if these cases are in acute hospital settings, in the community, in day services or in psychiatric services, nursing homes or intellectual disability residential settings.”

“There are three main reasons for demanding this information. Firstly, this information will identify any Covid-19 hotspots. Secondly, the information will allow us to have an understanding if health workers were exposed due to the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or poor enforcement of Health Service Executive (HSE) protocols. Finally, we will learn how these health workers were treated by their employer, and whether all those who have contracted Covid-19 have been dealt with on a fair and equal basis,” he said.

“We have learned in recent days that the “Be on Call for Ireland” initiative has resulted in health workers being contracted to work for employment agencies. The HSE has been quick to point out that these workers are not covered by Covid-19 paid leave or ‘death in service’ policies. We also want the Government to clarify what financial, medical and rehabilitation support will be provided to health workers in the aftermath of the Covid-19 emergency.

“We believe that health workers exposed to this disease should receive compensation for loss of salary and State support for medical costs which may continue in the aftermath of this emergency. These costs should include counselling services as it is feared that many health workers will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the pandemic. This support must be afforded to all health workers.”