28/01/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health

Clinical placements for student nurses and midwives suspended until 8th February

Clinical placements for student nurses and midwives suspended until 8th February

SIPTU representatives and nursing unions were informed tonight (Thursday, 28th January) that clinical placements for first, second and third year student nurses and midwives are to be suspended until at least Monday 8th February and are likely return on a phased basis.

SIPTU Industrial Organiser, John McCamley, said: “Over the last number of days, SIPTU representatives have raised our members deep frustration and annoyance at the haphazard manner way this process has been handled and the very real concerns held by student nurses and midwives around their education, health, well-being and financial challenges.

“It is our understanding that students will not have to make up the time for the first two weeks of this suspension as different processes are being put in place to facilitate this. However, no clarity has yet been provided with respect to the additional week or any further additional weeks of hiatus.

“At the meeting today, the Department of Health again confirmed that the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, will sign off on the recent recommendations by Professor Tom Collins and introduce a €100 clinical placement grant. We would encourage the Minister to backdate this payment at a minimum, as suggested by Professor Collins.”

He added: “SIPTU will continue to argue for proper protections within the workplace for students across all health grades and to insist that appropriate financial remuneration is provided for those who carry out essential frontline duties.”

26/01/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health

SIPTU demands transparency in vaccine sequencing programme

SIPTU representatives have today (26th, January) demanded that the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, commits to publishing regular progress reports of the Covid-19 vaccine sequencing programme across the health service. 

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “Over the last number of days the confidence in this rollout has taken a real battering. The fears and anxiety of tens of thousands of frontline staff working through this pandemic have been heightened by this three week gap in vaccinations.”

“To rebuild confidence in the fair and transparent implementation of the Covid-19 vaccine sequencing programme we are calling on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, to publish regular progress reports of its implementation. 

“This report should include a full breakdown of the subsets and categories of worker vaccinated. This will require the Minister to come clean on the categories of workers who have been vaccinated so far and explain the deviation in full.” 

He added: “If there is any further deviation from the sequencing programme, or if there is more evidence of people skipping the queue, then full clinical advice from NPHET must also be published in full. This is the only way to ensure that the process is transparent and that the Minister can be held to account for its full implementation.”

22/01/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health

SIPTU says health worker vaccination pause a cause of major concern for members

SIPTU representatives have today (Friday, 22nd January) said the rapid growth in the Covid-19 infection rate of Health Care Workers (HCWs) to almost 7,000 in the last two weeks is a cause of major concern in light of the Health Service Executive (HSE) plans to pause first dose vaccinations for workers across the health service until early February. 

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “This planned vaccination pause could not come at worse time for health workers. Over the last number of days, there is a heightened anxiety and frustration among our members who about alleged deviations from the HSE sequencing programme. This programme was meant to be designed to underpin the safe and responsible distribution of the vaccine and we all need to have complete confidence in it. Numbers published today by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) also clearly illustrate the need for health workers to be vaccinated with 6,834 workers infected over the last two weeks. This is a total of 20,000 HCWs infected since the pandemic began in March and a sharp increase of over 50% in infection rates since Christmas.”

The release of these stark figures comes following the publication of a seroprevalence study examining the levels of antibody evidence of Covid-19 infection among healthcare workers that confirms Health Care Assistants are the most at risk group for contracting Covid-19.”

He added: “The Government must now take immediate action to protect our frontline health workers by doing all they can to rapidly increase the supply of vaccinations coming into the country. They must also be upfront with people about the importance of sticking to the sequencing programme while protecting our most vulnerable and giving confidence to all those on the frontline of our health service that their dose is on the way.” 

17/01/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health

SIPTU says lack of consultation to suspend student placements will deepen crisis in health service

SIPTU representatives have today (Sunday, 17th January) said the lack of consultation surrounding the decision by health minister, Stephen Donnelly, to suspend student placements will only deepen the serious crisis in the health service.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “SIPTU representatives have been inundated with calls from members who received calls late last night informing them that their placement was suspended.

They expressed their frustration over this sudden change in policy and the potential impact it will have on the provision of essential health care. Members are furious over the stunning lack of proper consultation and say this decision will only deepen the crisis in the health service for students and health care staff working on the frontline. Students are rightly worried about their status and how this decision will impact on their training. They and other health workers across the service are also deeply concerned about the ramifications this may have on patient care.”

He added: “SIPTU representatives have for weeks been demanding that all students on clinical placements throughout the Covid-19 crisis including nurses, midwives and radiographers are recognised and paid for their essential, frontline work.”

15/01/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health

SIPTU says safe functioning of the health service in grave danger

SIPTU Health representatives have today (Friday, 15th January) said the Covid-19 infection rates of health care workers are unsustainable and putting the safe functioning of the health service in grave danger. 

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “Over 5,000 health workers have been infected with Covid-19 since Christmas. Four out of five infected are women and workers in support grades including Health Care Assistants, porters, catering assistants and home care workers are in the majority of those infected. This level of infection is completely unsustainable.

“Health workers across all grades are being decimated while this virus is raging out of control across our health service. It is clear that health care workers are not safe in work and the current rate of infection is putting the safe functioning of the service in grave danger. We are again calling for the immediate recruitment of additional and essential staff to assist all health workers on the frontline.”

He added: “While this data is alarming and a cause of real concern for our members its publication is to be welcomed. It provides public health officials and union representatives with an opportunity to map out realistic solutions and stronger workplace protections for all.”

12/01/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health

SIPTU concerned about delays for ambulances at emergency departments

SIPTU representatives have expressed concern that issues of bed capacity and overcrowding in hospital emergency departments (EDs) will continue to affect the work of the National Ambulance Service. They have called on the HSE to immediately fast track the recruitment of thousands of additional staff as a matter of urgency in the fight against Covid-19.

SIPTU Organiser, Ciaran Sheridan, said: “SIPTU members at Letterkenny University Hospital have reported that the situation in relation to delays to the admission of sick patients has slightly improved. However, there are concerns that the distressing scenes witnessed last Sunday will be repeated. In attempts to ensure availability of emergency ambulances we have sought details regarding resilience measures and the provision of additional resources to prevent, or alleviate, further delays.”

Don Brennan, an Advanced Paramedic and SIPTU Shop Steward said: “We are pre-hospital practitioners and to be parked up outside an ED providing care presents new challenges for us. It is not conducive to optimum patient care and increases the difficulties in providing an acceptable level of comfort.”

SIPTU Ambulance Sector Organiser, Miriam Hamilton, said that the issue of delays in handing over patients at hospitals is not new. 

“SIPTU members have previously demanded the introduction of an emergency hand-over protocol to assist ambulance crews who are unable to deliver patients to hospital staff due to overcrowding and lack of bed capacity. The lack of capacity in receiving hospitals is preventing our members in the NAS from doing their jobs. Trained ambulance professionals with highly equipped vehicles are sitting outside hospitals when we need them to be available to respond to emergencies in our communities,” she said.

08/01/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health

SIPTU says Minister for Health must act now to remove roadblocks to health service recruitment

SIPTU representatives have today (Friday, 8th January) urged the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, to immediately intervene and remove any roadblocks to health service recruitment as part of an emergency effort to address the unsustainable staffing crisis that is spreading right across the health service. 

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “The current stress on our health services is completely unsustainable. Patient numbers are rising while staffing levels are falling. The Minister must act now and make sure recruitment is fast tracked to ensure health workers are supported in this hour of national emergency.” 

“The reality is that health staff shortages are everywhere. They are all across the board in acute settings, mental health services, care in the community and the National Ambulance Service, no area of care hasn’t been severely impacted upon in recent days from Covid-19 infections, symptoms or the challenges health workers are facing attending work due to care commitments. 

“There is a growing, distinct and deep frustration from our members that despite the fanfare, the Government, the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE) have not moved quick enough to recruit at least some of the 16,000 additional health workers they pledged as part of an additional €4 billion for the health service in Budget 2021.”

He added: “Over recent weeks, and as the spread of the virus has intensified, our members have also been left in the dark over how many health care workers have tested positive for Covid-19. The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) were producing weekly reports to give health workers and their representatives a fuller understanding of the infection rates in essential health settings but since Wednesday 23rd December there has been unacceptable silence. We would ask that the Minister would also rectify this as a matter of urgency.”

02/01/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health

SIPTU Health representatives urge HSE to guarantee proper childcare supports for frontline workers

SIPTU Health representatives have today (Saturday, 2nd January) called on the management of the Health Service Executive (HSE) to guarantee proper supports are immediately put in place to assist health workers with childcare commitments reporting for work when schools and pre-school services are closed across the country next week.  

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “The decision to keep schools and pre-school services closed until Monday 11th January has created considerable uncertainty for workers and poses a significant challenge for our members working on the frontline of our hospitals, nursing homes and communities.

“As we enter the next critical phase of the pandemic and with transmission rates soaring, it is essential that the health service has all hands on deck. 

Over the last number of days, SIPTU Health representatives have worked with colleagues on the staff panel of unions to get a guarantee from the health service employers that arrangements are put in place to make sure all health workers with childcare commitments are fully supported in the weeks ahead.”

He added: “From the very start of this pandemic and through each lockdown health care workers have made every effort to have childcare arrangements in place enabling them to keep our health service going. The reality is that the decision to close these facilities has far reaching consequences for working parents in the health service. The employer has an obligation to make sure that this essential workforce can get to work and make sure our health service can cope with any potential surge in hospital admissions next week.”