20/04/2021 Comments are off AideenC
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Get retirement ready with Cornmarket

SIPTU Health Division members can tune into a FREE Retirement Planning webinarhosted by Cornmarket exclusively for our members, on Wednesday 28th April from 5.00 p.m. – 6.30 p.m.

If you are planning to retire in the next couple of years, this event is for you! Click HERE.

The online information session will offer guidance on all aspects of retirement, from financial planning to taking care of your mental health during the transition. It will run for 90 minutes and will feature an interview with Brent Pope on the emotional impact of retirement and maintaining your wellbeing.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, will introduce the session and Cornmarket’s financial experts will talk about how to make your pension pot go further. 

Registration for the event is free.

it’s never been more important, or easier, to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Encourage colleagues to join SIPTU Health Division HERE.

  • Contact us HERE
  • More information on Cornmarket can be found HERE
15/04/2021 Comments are off AideenC
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HSE Update: Online vaccine registrations

From today, Thursday, 15 April, people aged between 65 and 69 can register for their COVID-19 vaccine online.

To avoid delays when we open registrations this week, we are asking people to register on different days depending on their age:

Registration dates and age groups

·       Thursday, 15 April, people aged 69 should register

·       Friday, 16 April – people aged 68 should register

·       Saturday, 17 April – people aged 67 should register

·       Sunday, 18 April – people aged 66 should register

·       Monday, 19 April – people aged 65 should register

If you are a staff member in this age group and you haven’t already registered for your vaccine then you too can register this week.

Register here for your vaccine

Online registration – information for patients and service users

People in this age group who are registering online will need their Personal Public Service Number (PPSN), their Eircode, an email address or a mobile phone number.

A friend or family member can help If someone is finding it difficult to go online and register or they can ring HSELive for support on 1850 24 1850 or 01 240 8787 from 8am to 8pm, 7 days.

Once registered the person will receive their vaccine appointment for the Vaxzevria® vaccine (also known as AstraZeneca) from Thursday, 22 April.

14/04/2021 Comments are off AideenC
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Vaccination update for SIPTU members

SIPTU representatives today (Wednesday, 14th April) met representatives of the HSE National Vaccination Team for an update on the progress of the national vaccination plan.

At the meeting, HSE representatives confirmed that National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) advice states the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to people between 60 and 69 years old.

AstraZeneca was being used for Category 4 (People aged 16-69 with a medical condition that puts them at very high risk of severe disease and death) and remaining health care workers (HCWs)

Arising from this decision, SIPTU representatives understand all AstraZeneca vaccination clinics have been cancelled for this week and revised arrangements will be published. 

SIPTU representatives were told that approximately 810,000 doses of AstraZeneca will be received between April and end of June 2021. Initially, these doses will be used for Category 4 people aged between 60-69 years old. 

SIPTU representatives were advised 660,000 Pfizer vaccines would be received in April and that an IT Portal will open for people aged 65-69 years old this week. 

The Portal will issue appointments to the nearest vaccination centre for the address given by the registrant. We understand it will be expanded to other categories as soon as possible. It is likely the next age category will be 60-64. 

SIPTU representatives were advised people aged between 60-69 years old in Category 4 will be given an AstraZeneca vaccine. SIPTU were informed registrants will be advised on the appointment system and it will be the AstraZeneca vaccine they will be given. SIPTU understands a choice of vaccine will not be offered.

SIPTU was advised that approximately 150,000 healthcare workers (HCWs) have received a first dose vaccine to date and that a HCW who has received a first dose AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered a second dose vaccine of the same brand. 

The HSE stated the gap between vaccines has been changed on clinical advice and HCWs under 60 years old will have a gap of 16 weeks. Those over 60 years of age will have a gap between vaccines of 12 weeks. 

There is no clarity yet to confirm what option for vaccine will be available to HCWs aged under 60 years of age, or remaining Category 4, who have not yet been vaccinated. 

SIPTU representatives understand this is being reviewed currently and we are awaiting developments. 

SIPTU representatives were advised the expected delivery of vaccine from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is now not due to arrive as it is being withheld by the manufacturer. It was expected 14,000 doses would be received this week. This is now not the case and further developments are expected. The J&J vaccine is a one dose vaccine. 

In the immediate term, SIPTU understands most available Pfizer vaccines will be used to complete Category 3 (people aged 70 and older) of the sequencing document. These vaccines will be administered by GPs in the community and the National Ambulance Service for house-bound people.  

SIPTU representatives did raise concerns with the lack of communication from the HSE to their staff on the recent changes to the vaccine programme, with specific reference to healthcare workers who have been vaccinated or are yet to be vaccinated. This point was accepted.

SIPTU representatives were advised our members concerns would be raised with national health officials with a view of such a communication document being developed. Parties agreed to re-engage next week on updates and ongoing issues. 

If you would like to contact the union about your experience please email ask@siptuhealth.ie

To subscribe for these updates please click here

The current order in which people in Ireland will be vaccinated against COVID-19

(Category 1) People aged 65 years and older who are residents of long-term care facilities (likely to include all staff and residents on site) 

(Category 2) Frontline healthcare workers 

(Category 3) People aged 70 and older 

(Category 4) People aged 16-69 with a medical condition that puts them at very high risk of severe disease and death 

(Category 5) People aged 65-69 whose underlying condition puts them at a high risk of severe disease and death 

(Category 6) Other people aged 65-69, other healthcare workers not in direct patient contact, and key workers essential to the vaccine programme 

(Category 7) People aged 16-64 who have an underlying condition that puts them at high risk of severe disease and death 

(Category 8) Residents of long-term care facilities aged 18-64 

(Category 9) People aged 18-64 living or working in crowded settings 

(Category 10) Key workers in essential jobs who cannot avoid a high risk of exposure. 

(Category 11) People working in education sector 

(Category 12) People aged 55-64 

(Category 13) Other workers in occupations important to the functioning of society 

(Category 14) Other people aged 18-54 

(Category 15) People aged under 18 and pregnant women 

25/03/2021 Comments are off AideenC
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SIPTU criticises response from health minister regarding student radiographers

SIPTU representatives have today (Thursday, 25th March) written to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, criticising his refusal to meet student radiographers and expressing extreme disappointment over his lack of commitment to address any of the serious concerns over clinical placements during the pandemic. 

SIPTU Industrial Organiser, John McCamley, said: “The response from the Minister’s office is not acceptable. Student radiographers over the last year have put their lives at risk carry out frontline work for no financial reward and to be left high and dry by the Minister is completely shocking. It is scandalous that up to 400 student radiographers continue to make an essential contribution to the health service and are not being recognised for their work. 

“The reality is that clinical placements involve direct patient care and assisting qualified radiographers in hospital X-ray departments and theatres. The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges faced by student radiographers. Due to fears of cross-contamination, lockdowns and public health restrictions many students are unable to earn any income by working part-time, causing them further financial difficulties. Student radiographers with no choice but to self-isolate have to make up the time later in the year. They are not entitled to sick pay or any of the other protections enjoyed by directly employed health staff even though they face many of the same challenges and risks as other frontline workers.”

He added: “At a very minimum, student radiographers should be treated like other student groups carrying out clinical placements in the health service. SIPTU representatives are again calling on the Minister to address the issues and concerns of student radiographers as a matter of priority.”

15/03/2021 Comments are off AideenC
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COVID-19 Vaccine Staff Update on AstraZeneca vaccine

A decision has been made to temporarily defer administration of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. As many of you, our frontline healthcare workers have received the AstraZeneca vaccine the HSE have prepared the following information for you. 

The HSE have advised that the deferral is being put in place as a precautionary step, while further information about some reported adverse events is reviewed by the EMA, the European Medicines Agency.

As more information is available, the HSE have advises that they will keep all health workers informed.

Questions and Answers from the HSE 

Why has the use of AstraZeneca Vaccine been temporarily deferred? 

Following a new safety alert received late on 13th March (from Norway), and pending receipt of further information from the EMA, as a precaution, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) have recommended a temporary deferral of administration of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® in Ireland. 

Pending further advice, the use of AstraZeneca vaccine will be temporarily deferred for the week commencing the 14th March 2021. 

The alert originated from the Norwegian Medicines Agency following four new reports of serious rare clotting, or thromboembolic, events, including some complicated by low platelet levels, or thrombocytopenia, in younger adults. These occurred after vaccination with COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. At this time, no link between the events and the vaccine have been confirmed.

The EMA is already investigating a number of reports of thromboembolic events from the AstraZeneca Vaccine and a report is expected over the coming days. 

EMA information from 12th March was that the number of clotting or thromboembolic events in vaccinated people is no higher than the number seen in the general population. As of 10 March 2021, 30 cases of thromboembolic events had been reported among close to 5 million people vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® in the European Economic Area. 

This vaccine along with the others, is a very important tool in our fight against COVID-19 disease. 

What should I do if I have an appointment today or in the next few days to receive COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® vaccine? 

You should not attend your appointment for COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® until you receive further contact from the HSE about the resumption of the programme. 

You should continue to follow all COVID-19 precautions in the meantime. 

Any appointments for a first or second dose of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine can still go ahead as they are not included in this safety alert. This includes appointments for people aged 70 and over who are being vaccinated by GPs.

What about my second dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® vaccine? 

The recommended dose interval between the first and second dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® is 12 weeks. There are no appointments scheduled for second doses at the present time. Further information will be provided about second doses as soon as it is available 

What should I do if I have already received COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® vaccine? 

The events reported are very rare, and we do not know if they are caused by the vaccine. This vaccine is a very important tool in our fight against COVID-19 disease. 

We know that side effects of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® can occur within the first couple of days after receiving the vaccine. 

After the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, more than 1 in 10 people may experience: 

· feeling tired 

· tenderness, bruising, pain, redness or itching in the arm where they 

· had the vaccine injection 

· headache 

· muscle pain 

· joint pain 

· nausea, diarrhoea or vomiting 

· fever (temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above) 

More than 1 in 100 people may have redness or swelling where they had the injection. 

It’s common to develop a fever (temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above) after any vaccination. This usually happens within 2 days (48 hours) of getting the vaccine. It usually goes away within 2 days. 

If you feel uncomfortable, take paracetamol or ibuprofen following the instructions on the box or leaflet.

What if I still feel unwell more than 3 days after my vaccine? 

People who have received the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® and feel increasingly unwell for more than three days after vaccination, and/or who notice larger or smaller blue spots in the skin (purpuric, non-blanching rash, skin haemorrhages) should consult a doctor or out-of-hours medical service. 

The rare events that have been reported have usually occurred within 14 days of receiving the vaccine. And, it’s important to remember that there is no proven link between these events and the vaccine at this time.

What else should we remember?

COVID-19 is a serious disease which has caused significant disease and death across the world including Ireland. COVID-19 vaccines have been developed and authorised for use after rigorous testing and have a favourable safety profile. 

More than 100,000 doses of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® have been used in Ireland so far, mainly in frontline healthcare workers, and we can already see the significant reduction in cases of COVID-19 disease in this group after the vaccine programme. 

What are the next steps?

Further information is expected from the EMA in the next few days, which will include a review of these additional events. This information will be reviewed by NIAC and further advice on the programme will be issued following this. The HSE has committed to keeping members updated and share information as it is available.

Read the Statement from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC)

03/03/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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SIPTU members working in the Bon Secours Health System to ballot for strike action

SIPTU members working in the Bon Secours Health System are to commence a national ballot for industrial action, up to and including strike action, in an effort to secure a job evaluation process for up to 500 support grade workers.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Miriam Hamilton, said: “Following wide consultation over the last number of weeks with our shop stewards in the Bon Secours Health System, it has been agreed to ballot for both industrial and strike action across five hospital locations in Dublin, Limerick, Galway, Cork and Kerry.”

“Despite repeated requests, the Bon Secours management has refused to engage with SIPTU representatives on the implementation of a job evaluation scheme. The Bon Secours Health System and SIPTU have a long standing agreement linking the pay and working conditions of our Bon Secours members to those of workers in the HSE. The actions of management in recent weeks have threatened this link and our members won’t stand for it. Our members believe that pay movements arising from the implementation of the job evaluation scheme in the HSE should also be applied to support grade workers in the Bon Secours Health System.”

She added: “The ballot of members, to protect this vital link between the HSE and the Bon Secours Health System, will take place in the coming weeks. Management must accept that support grade workers, including health care assistants, porters, catering attendants and cleaners are essential to the running of every hospital and deserve to feel valued and respected. SIPTU representatives remain available to meet with management and we again call on them to engage with us in advance of our ballot in an attempt to find a resolution to this dispute.”

25/02/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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Pandemic places long-term care work among world’s most dangerous jobs

UNI Global Union, which represents 2 million care workers worldwide, today said the COVID-19 pandemic has made nursing homes some of the most hazardous—and even deadly—workplaces in the world. 

In a new report released today—The Most Dangerous Job: The Impact of COVID-19 on Long-Term Care Workers in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, and Australia—UNI reveals how similar issues across the long-term care sector in five countries contributed to COVID-19 contagion and deaths not just for residents but also the vulnerable workers in the industry. 

“We are already facing tragedy of an unspeakable scale, but I fear that much more loss is in store,” said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. “We do not know the impact that COVID will have on workers over time, and unless the working conditions that helped virus spread like wildfire through care homes—the lack of PPE, low wages, no paid sick days, no union representation—are fixed, serious problems will persist after vaccinations and after this pandemic.”

Speaking following the release of the report, SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “There has never been a greater need for serious investment by the Government in the wider nursing home sector. There is an over reliance on the ‘for profit’ sector to provide this essential care to our most vulnerable citizens. The Government has a duty to ensure that all health care workers in both public and private nursing homes have decent terms and conditions of employment including pay, adequate pension provision and paid sick leave.

“Long term residential care settings have been the hardest hit sector affected by the pandemic. Over 1,600 people have died with Covid-19 in long term residential care settings since the outset of this dreadful pandemic with 369 of these separate tragedies happening in January alone. The Government has a responsibility to ensure that all residents and staff are protected and have a safe working environment with respectable conditions of employment.”

23/02/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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Unions overwhelmingly endorse new public service agreement

Public service unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions today (Tuesday) endorsed a new public service agreement after 13 out of 17 unions in the sector, which collectively represent the overwhelming majority of Ireland’s public servants, backed the deal.

The package, called Building Momentum, was formally ratified at a meeting of ICTU’s Public Services Committee (PSC) this morning.

The agreement, which comes into force with immediate effect and runs until December 2022, includes modest pay increases skewed towards those on lower incomes, measures to address important remaining issues from the last financial crisis, and a mechanism for sectoral bargaining drawing on a a ‘sectoral bargaining fund,’ initially worth 1% of basic pensionable pay during the lifetime of the agreement. It retains strong protections against the privatisation and outsourcing of public services.

Building Momentum also acknowledges the recent “unprecedented display of commitment, flexibility, hard work and agility in public service provision” and commits the parties to harness this momentum to meet challenges including the continuing response to Covid-19, a return to normal delivery of health and education services, Brexit, digitisation, and establishing the public service as the driver of best practice on remote working.

Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan, who chairs ICTU’s Public Services Committee, said ICTU-affiliated unions were committed to the full implementation of the agreement which would bring tangible benefits to those who use and provide public services. “The pay terms represent a realistic and acceptable approach to incomes, and they are substantially skewed towards lower earners in a very challenging context of limited resources,” he said.

SIPTU deputy general secretary John King, who is secretary to the ICTU PSC said: “From the outset of our membership consultations, it was clear that there was a real appetite to reject austerity agreements, and improve and progress pay while protecting public service delivery and public service jobs. There was also a demand to try and find a way to deal with grade-related pressure points, without undermining a collective agreement. This short, two year agreement can deliver on these objectives while providing security in times of great uncertainty for all workers across public service.”

INTO general secretary John Boyle said: ““While the pay increases of 1% per annum are modest, the addition of €500 per year to salaries below €50,000 is appropriate particularly for those in the early stages of their careers. The inclusion of a sectoral bargaining fund of 1% of payroll is vital to allow unions to address a range of long-standing claims by next February.”

INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said“From meeting with our members across the country, it is clear that the main issues for them were restoration of hours to pre-2013 levels, safe staffing, and funds to deal with nursing management outstanding claims. The challenges to retain staff in our health services are real. All aspects of this agreement must be fully implemented over its two-year lifetime.”

The PSC officers are now in discussions with senior officials at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) about the implementation of elements of the deal, including the establishment of the processes to address additional working time introduced under the 2013 Haddington Road agreement and to establish bargaining units in relation to the deal’s sectoral bargaining provisions. 

The main features of Building Momentum include:

Pay

·       A general round increase worth 1% of gross pay or €500 a year, whichever is the greater, on 1st October 2021. This means those on lower incomes will receive a significantly larger percentage increase than higher paid staff.

·       A second general round increase worth 1% of gross pay or €500 a year, whichever is the greater on 1stOctober 2022. This means those on lower incomes will receive a significantly larger percentage increase than higher paid staff.

·       Provision for the equivalent of a 1% increase in annualised basic salaries through a ‘sectoral bargaining fund’ (see below) on 1st February 2022.

Sectoral bargaining

·       The establishment of a ‘sectoral bargaining fund,’ initially worth 1% of basic pensionable pay during the lifetime of the agreement, to deal with outstanding adjudications, recommendations, awards and claims, with the option for groups to use the available allocation as a sectoral pay round.

Issues outstanding from the 2013 Haddington Road agreement

·       Recognition that certain measures introduced under the Haddington Road agreement (HRA) “are to be addressed and implemented” including:

·       The establishment of an independent body by the end of March 2021, to make recommendations to begin the process of returning to pre-Haddington Road hours, with €150 million available to commence implementation of the outcome during 2022, and provision for a successor agreement to engage on the roll-out of additional recommendations.

·       Measures to address the ‘new entrant’ teacher issue, which will see those recruited since 1st January 2011 move from point 11 to point 13 of the pay scale, or move up one additional point.

·       Restoration of overtime and premium payments to pre-2013 levels.

Maintaining the momentum for reform

·       Acknowledgement of the recent “unprecedented display of commitment, flexibility, hard work and agility in public service provision” and pledge the parties to harness this momentum to meet the immediate challenges of 2021 and 2022, including the continuing response to Covid-19, a return to normal delivery of health and education services, including addressing challenges that arose for children during the crisis, managing the response to Brexit, establishing the public service as the driver of best practice on remote working, and addressing digitisation.

·       Measures to harness the potential for technology to improve service delivery.

·       Measures to improve access to services through reformed work practices, including enabling temporary reassignments where necessary and increasing the movement of staff across the public service where necessary.

·       An implementation and reporting mechanism to ensure delivery of agreed reforms, including through sectoral action plans.

Outsourcing

·       The agreement retains existing safeguards on any proposed outsourcing of public service provision.

Service stability and industrial peace

·       The agreement sets out a detailed dispute resolution process, including an “industrial peace” clause in line with previous public service agreements.

12/02/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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Huge support for SIPTU PSA strategy

SIPTU members have given an overwhelming endorsement of the proposals in Building Momentum – A New Public Service Agreement 2021-2022.

Union representatives approached the talks with a clear indication of what our members sought from a future public service agreement.

This was based on motions submitted to Biennial Delegate Conference in October 2019 and consultation meetings with activists in January 2020 before the onset of Covid-19.

It was clear members wanted to move away from austerity agreements, achieve income progression and hold on to the protective clauses on outsourcing with no compulsory redundancies.

There was also a demand to try and find a way to deal with grade related pressure points – without undermining a collective agreement.

The new Agreement provides for pay increases weighted in favour of the lower and middle income earners while protective provisions were maintained. Overtime rates, twilight shift premiums and the tool allowance are restored while a mechanism has been secured to deal with the additional unpaid hours.

A bargaining fund has also been established.

While modest, progress was made on our members’ key objectives, particularly with the restoration of the additional cuts (overtime and premiums ) and the process to deal with the additional hours.

The bargaining fund will present a pathway to enable unions and bargaining units commence some of this work.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the timing and process of negotiations of this agreement were not normal.

Communications and consultations with members were different and difficult at times but judging by the tens of thousands who took part in both the consultation process and the postal ballot, the process clearly worked.

The vote was an overwhelming 91% in favour of the proposals.

Union negotiators will take this mandate to the next meeting of the ICTU Public Service Committee where the votes of all public service unions will be aggregated.

If accepted, it is vitally important that we work together to ensure that the benefits of the agreement and its protective clauses are maximised to greatest possible extent for the benefit of SIPTU members.

This is a short, two year agreement and we hope to be back in talks within 18 months with new proposals to advance pay and conditions in the public service.

Hopefully, they will take place in a non-Covid environment and an improved economic landscape.

11/02/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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SIPTU members support Public Service Agreement by overwhelming majority

SIPTU members in the public service have voted by a resounding majority to accept the proposals in Building Momentum, a New Public Service Agreement

Following a count of ballots in Liberty Hall today (Thursday, 11th February), 91% of votes were in favour of the proposals.

The two year agreement provides for pay increases, a commitment to reduce working hours, protections on public service outsourcing and the restoration of overtime rates and twilight premiums for workers in the health service.

Announcing the result, SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, John King, said: “Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19 in the organisation of the ballot coupled with the necessary public health restrictions, tens of thousands of our members engaged in the consultation process across various online formats. The postal vote of the membership is reflective of this level of engagement by the Union’s public service membership.

“SIPTU representatives will now take this mandate to the next meeting of the ICTU Public Service Committee where the results of ballots by all unions across the public service will be aggregated to determine the final outcome.”