16/06/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole

COVID-19 Advice for SIPTU Health members

COVID-19 is a new disease in the human population and the national and international situation is dynamic and evolving. To assist SIPTU Health members during this time of crisis a new information line and email address has been set up.

You can read all the HSE Circulars on the Covid-19 crisis here

The HSE has developed a Frequently Asked Questions sheet that will be updated regularly.

You can also read the National Action Plan on Coronavirus here

CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR HEALTH?

STAFF AT HIGHER RISK OF CONTACT WITH COVID-19

SIPTU has sought the following commitments from management in the HSE and elsewhere with regard to staff who must work in environments of particular risk with regard to Covid-19:

  1. Wherever possible, volunteers for such tasks should be sought in the first instance
  2. For the protection of patients, clients, the public and workers themselves, staff must have the training and qualifications required to the undertake tasks and functions they are allocated safely and effectively
  3. Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and training in the use and disposal of PPE, will be provided along with any other necessary supports (eg, mental health support) that can reasonably be expected
  4. The individual family circumstances of staff will be taken into account when people are being allocated to tasks and functions. In particular, those living with – or whose caring responsibilities demand contact with – elderly and other high-risk groups should not be obliged to work in high-risk areas except in very exceptional circumstances
  5. Wherever possible, such workers will also receive other practical supports from their employer (eg, childcare supports)
  6. There will be equity in the application of these criteria.

ADVICE TO HEALTH WORKERS

All of us in SIPTU and across the nation are hugely grateful to the large number of health staff, of all grades, whose job might put them in contact with people who have the coronavirus.

This advice is based on HSE occupational health guidelines.

REPORTING FOR WORK

Reporting for work: General

SIPTU Health continues to advise members to report for work as normal unless:

  • You have been told not to attend work by your manager or HR department
  • Remote working arrangements have been put in place, and you have been told to work at home by your manager or HR department
  • You have a medical reason for not attending work
  • You are self-isolating on medical or HSE advice.

SIPTU Health members who are not attending work for approved coronavirus-related reasons – or on medical advice – will receive basic pay including fixed allowances from day one. Coronavirus-related sick leave will not be counted as part of the employee’s sick leave record, so long as they have medical or HSE confirmation of the need to self-isolate. But you must follow the guidelines published by the HSE which are available HERE.

If you have followed SIPTU/DPER advice and still encounter problems with your line manager or HR department, you should contact the union in the message box at the end of this page.

Current recommendations for the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the management of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are available HERE

HSE Memo re Redeployment Policy. HR Circular 15/2020

All traditional regular and rostered earnings must be considered if a review of rosters is being undertaken due to COVID-19. This review must take into account all regular earnings including on-call and overtime. The period for review is 6 weeks prior to the 20th March 2020 (date of introduction of the policy) and this can be adjusted if the employee was on sick leave or annual leave in order to get a true value of regular rostered earnings.

The clause is essential to ensure our members are not financially disadvantaged if interim rosters are introduced for the duration of COVID-19.

Reporting for work: Childcare difficulties

You will not automatically be paid if you are absent for work because of childcare difficulties arising from school or crèche closures.

However, DPER has called on managers and employees to be flexible in such circumstances, and has advised public service employers to support staff experiencing childcare problems including by enabling home working or introducing flexible shifts, staggered shifts, longer opening hours or weekend working. You can read more HERE.

Read the HSE’s circular on Childcare HERE and the accompanying guidance letter HERE. (Please note the two letters must be read together to understand the measures on offer). 

Reporting for work: self-isolating

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) issued new advice, on Monday 16th March, on what employees should do if they have to go into self-quarantine or self-isolation as a result of the Covid-19 virus. You can read a FAQ document HERE

UPDATED: Reporting for work: Pregnant women reporting for work

The HSE has advised pregnant women to take extra care. If you are pregnant and concerned about attending work, you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE. Note that agreed HSE guidelines say pregnant staff will be transferred to non-contact roles.

Current HSE occupational health advice says management has a responsibility to redeploy pregnant staff from direct contact with people with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 if requested. The same advice says pregnant staff who have said they want to be redeployed cannot be rostered to work with coronavirus patients.

Reporting for work: ‘Vulnerable groups’

If you are in vulnerable group (ie, if you are over 60 or have a long-term medical condition like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure), you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

Reporting for work: Staff recently returned from abroad

Staff who have recently returned from abroad – particularly from restricted areas as defined by the Department of Foreign Affairs, should follow HSE guidelines and/or seek medical advice.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

Reporting for work: Members who’ve recently recovered from a critical illness

If you’ve recently recovered from a critical illness, have recently been signed fit for work, but are concerned that you might be particularly vulnerable to the virus, you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

If you encounter problems with your employer

If you have followed SIPTU Health/DPER advice and still encounter problems with your line manager or HR department, you should contact the union.

Members are strongly advised to co-operate with management in its efforts to contain the Covid-19 coronavirus, protect the health and safety of citizens and workers, and maintain essential services – including when this means doing different things, in different ways, at different times.

Guidance issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which is available HERE, says staff redeployment across the civil and public services could be required to ensure the maintenance of essential services. It also called for the reassignment of staff within organisations to prioritise the most critical services.

The union is in constant liaison with management to ensure that appropriate protective and containment measures are in place.

If you have genuine concerns about the health and safety of yourself or others, or if you genuinely believe that collective agreements are being seriously breached without union consultation, you should contact the union

PROTECTIONS FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS WHO SELF-ISOLATE OR CONTRACT COVID-19

SIPTU Health members who contract the Covid-19 virus, or who are advised to self-isolate by a medical practitioner, will receive basic pay including fixed allowances from day one. Coronavirus-related sick leave will not be counted as part of the employee’s sick leave record, so long as they have medical or HSE confirmation of the need to self-isolate.

SIPTU HEALTH: HERE TO SUPPORT YOU

SIPTU Health is here to protect you if you have problems arising from the coronavirus or other workplace issues.

The best way to contact the union at this time is on our new information line 01-858 3699, by emailing covid19info@siptuhealth.ie or by filling in the box below.

02/06/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole

SIPTU says health workers have a right to the truth

SIPTU Health Division representatives have called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris to ensure information relating to the Covid-19 infection rates of all health workers is released without delay.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser Paul Bell said: “Health workers have a right to the truth. This vital information is available but currently being held by Department of Health and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) under lock and key. We are calling on the Minister to intervene and ensure that this potentially life-saving data is released immediately.”

“The reality is that SIPTU representatives have sought answers as to why nearly 8,000 health workers have contracted the Covid-19 virus, why nearly a third of all Covid-19 infections are health workers, and why six health workers died of the disease, for weeks now.

The data SIPTU representatives have requested is simple and straightforward.

Firstly, we want the location of where each health worker contracted the virus, followed by the grade of the health worker, as well as the gender and age group. These questions need to be answered. Two weeks ago, the Health Service Executive (HSE) made a promise to release the data on the HPSC website. This commitment did not materialise which is in itself extremely disturbing.”

“We know that this data is available and we note that elements of this data has already appeared in the pages of the national press. It is our clear understanding that information gleaned by the HSE for the purpose of Occupational Health cannot be transferred to State Claims on a technicality, which the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has been deliberating for a lengthy period of time. This posturing by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner on a technical point about the use of information for a purpose of which it was not collected is putting the lives of health workers at risk and is allowing the Department of Health to block the release of information which it already has in its possession.”

He added: “Media reports in recent days make specific reference to nurses and midwives sustaining 35% of all Covid-19 infections. This is deeply concerning and warrants attention. However, the data published by the HPSC goes back to mid-April, and that same data also confirmed that allied health professionals, including radiographers and physiotherapists, account for 25% of all infections in the health service, health care assistants account for 17.8%, doctors 11.5%, porters 1.5% and 8.4% of those infected are currently not categorised. We suspect the uncategorised are deployed in the support services, as these are the categories in which the fatalities so far identified have occurred.”

“There is no need for any further obstruction or drama on this specific matter. The Minister for Health must issue an instruction that this information be immediately released. This is not only in the public interest, but in the interest of the health and safety of all health workers. Workers we all rely upon to protect us, in this time of anxiety and uncertainty.”

13/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Advanced paramedic on collecting samples for Covid-19 tests

THE decision to use the ambulance service to collect samples from households around the country in a bid to combat the spread of Covid-19 is unprecedented, according to advanced paramedic Richard Quinlan, chief ambulance officer for the North Leinster region, who has paid tribute to the outstanding work being undertaken by frontline health service staff in the battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Read full article here

10/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Advice for health staff

All of us in SIPTU and across the nation are hugely grateful to the large number of health and welfare staff, of all grades, whose job means they are – or could be – in contact with people who have the coronavirus.

We appreciate that this puts you at higher risk than most, and we value and admire the exceptional contribution you’re making in this crisis.

The HSE has issued various guidelines for workers in this situation, including this on healthcare worker management by occupational health.’

It says staff should not be rostered to work with coronavirus patients if they don’t have appropriately-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE). And they should be trained in the proper use of PPE.

It also says pregnant staff, and those with a medical vulnerability, should not be rostered to work with coronavirus patients if they have indicated a desire to be redeployed.

The guidance identifies some basic steps required to prevent the transmission of the virus in healthcare settings.

These include instruction and training about the virus, modes of transmission and the measures staff should take to protect themselves.

It also says employers should provide a safe work environment including through the provision of appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE). It identifies the need for training and staff competency in coronavirus-related infection control practices and procedures, including the proper use and disposal of PPE.

It says managers are responsible for:

  • Providing adequate resources for the prevention and management of coronavirus
  • Advising staff about the terms and conditions of sick leave and special leave with pay
  • Identifying staff in contact with confirmed cases of Covid-19 and referring any possible close contacts to Occupational Health for contact tracing
  • Maintaining and providing access to contact packs within the clinical and hospital settings,
  • And redeploying pregnant or immunocompromised staff from direct contact with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 if the person has requested this.

It says staff must:

  • Follow the guidance provided by Occupational Health, Public Health and their manager.
  • Immediately act to self-isolate if they have been identified as a contact and become unwell at work, and inform their manager and Occupational Health so that appropriate testing can be arranged.

The guidance also covers a range of other issues including the management of exposure in the workplace, the management of contacts and close contacts, self-quarantine, the role of Occupational Health, and health workers returning from abroad.

The HSE has also published professional guidance for healthcare professionals.

08/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole

HSE Circulars 2020

A total of 19 Circulars have issued since 6th April 2020 – 7 relate to COVID-19.

HR Circular 024 2020 COVID-19 – Employment Permits System Contingency Arrangements

HR Circular 025 2020 Correction to Rates of Pay for Health Care Assistant and Theatre Porter/Attendant

HR Circular 026 2020 – Revision to Redeployment Policy during COVID-19

HR Circular 027 2020 Updated FAQs re working arrangements and leave associated with COVID-19

HR Circular 028 2020 New Temporary Grades Codes Final Year Academic Nurse/Midwife Students in Response to COVID-19

HR Circular 029 2020 Revised arrangements for Change in Contract requests during the COVID-19 Outbreak

HR Circular 030 2020 Changes to Employment Permits for NCHDs

HR Circular 031 2020 Revised Redeployment Policy

HR Circular 032 2020 COVID-19 Transmission Risk Mitigation Guidance

HR Circular 033 2020 Working arrangements for those with caring arrangements during COVID-19

HR Circular 034 2020 Guidance and FAQs for Public Service Employers during COVID-19 in relation to working arrangements and temporary assignments across the Public Service

HR Circular 035 2020 Pilot Pre-Retirement Initiative for Nurses Midwives during COVID-19

HR Circular 036 2020 HIPE at Hospital Departments

HR Circular 037 2020 Student Radiographers

HR Circular 038 2020 COVID-19 new absence codes and change on absence reporting

HR Circular 039 2020 Change to Sleepover hourly rate due to an increase in National Minimum Wage

HR Circular 040 2020 Sponsorship for Public Health Service Employees wishing to train as Nurses/Midwives

HR Circular 041 2020 Implementation of additional roles within the general support staff grades

HR Circular 042 2020 Guidance and FAQs for Public Service Employers during COVID-19 in relation to working arrangements and temporary assignments across the Public Service

29/02/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Redeployment during COVID19

All traditional regular and rostered earnings must be considered if a review of rosters is being undertaken due to COVID-19.

This review must take into account all regular earnings including on-call and overtime. The period for review is 6 weeks prior to the 20th March 2020 (date of introduction of the policy) and this can be adjusted if the employee was on sick leave or annual leave in order to get a true value of regular rostered earnings.

This clause below essential to ensure our members are not financially disadvantaged if interim rosters are introduced for the duration of COVID-19.

If you experience any issues please contact your local representative or shop steward.

 

 

21/07/2019 Comments are off SIPTUhealth

Have your say on CPD

SIPTU Health Division has launched a questionnaire to enhance the development of a Continuous Professional Development Centre in partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Click here to take the survey

The survey will take 10 minutes to complete and is completely confidential.

All completed entries are in a draw for One4All vouchers worth €100.

 

24/06/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

WRC talks resume over the implementation of a job evaluation scheme

Today (Monday, 24th June) SIPTU representatives are back in the Workplace Relations Commission to win an agreement on the implementation of a job evaluation scheme and recognition for support staff members.

Download the SIPTU Health App for updates.

Video: Health Care Assistants like Gareth are the backbone of our health service.

19/06/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Health strike deferred to allow for talks tomorrow at WRC

SIPTU representatives have confirmed that a 24 hour workplace stoppage planned for tomorrow has been deferred pending the outcome of emergency talks at the WRC on the implementation of a job evaluation scheme.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The strike action scheduled for tomorrow is now deferred at the request of the Workplace Relations Commission. Discussions on implementation of the job evaluation scheme will commence tomorrow (Thursday, 20th June)and Friday (21st June)

He added: “Preparations for strike action for next Tuesday (June 25th) and Wednesday (June 26th)

18/03/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Guidance for health workers dealing with the general public

What is the COVID-19?

A novel (new) virus that has not previously been seen in humans was identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. COVID-19 is from the same large family of viruses (coronaviruses) that caused the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS).

How is COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 can spread from person to person, usually after close contact with a person infected with the virus.

The virus can be spread either:

  • directly, through contact with an infected person’s body fluids (e.g. droplets from coughing or sneezing) or
  • indirectly, through contact with surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on and which are, therefore, contaminated with the virus. It is still not known how long COVID-19 virus survives on surfaces, although current information suggests the virus may survive a few hours. Simple household disinfectants can kill the virus.

    One of the best ways to prevent person to person spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19 is to use proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette (outlined below)

    How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Practice good respiratory hygiene i.e. when coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Maintain social distancing i.e. leave at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth – if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.

    Do I need to wear a facemask to protect me from COVID-19?

    For people working with the general public in the community who are feeling well and do not have respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, fever, shortness of breath), facemasks are not recommended because there is no evidence that using masks in this setting is of any benefit in people who are not sick. In line with the WHO guidance, the HSE is not recommending use of facemasks for people in the community setting who are feeling well and do not have symptoms. The most important action that these people can take to protect themselves from COVID-19 is regular hand-washing and good respiratory hygiene, as outlined above.

    My client/customer has recently travelled to Ireland from a country where there have been cases of COVID-19. Are there any precautions or actions that I need to take?

    Affected areas where COVID-19 is circulating in the community are available on HSE.ie

    If your client/customer has returned from one of these countries and they are feeling well, they should have already visited the HSE website and made contact with the HSE helpline by phone for advice (Callsave: 1850 24 1850 Phone Phone: 041 6850300).

    If they remain well, no specific measures are needed. They will be advised to watch out for any symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following their return. The symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, temperature and, sometimes breathing difficulties (e.g. shortness of breath).

    No specific measures are needed at present for clients/customers who have returned from other countries

    For a client/customer with no symptoms, there is no need for them to stay at home or to isolate themselves (i.e. remain separate from other people). There are no restrictions regarding work or any other activities.

    If they develop any symptoms within 14 days of return from areas with presumed community transmission of COVID-19, the person should isolate themselves (i.e. stay separate from other people), and then contact their GP/doctor straight away by phone for advice, informing the GP/doctor of their recent travel history. This will be explained to them by HSE staff. The GP/doctor will advise on the next steps to take, including organising testing for COVID-19 if necessary.