Now is the time for Healthcare Assistants to Organise – SIPTU

SIPTU, the Union with national negotiation rights for Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) in Ireland, will today (September 21st), be reaching out to HCAs in Galway University Hospital and encouraging them to join the Union to ensure their role is recognised and respected.

The Union will be on the site of Galway University Hospital today, speaking to HCAs about the value of joining SIPTU and sharing information on their rights and entitlements in the workplace.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Pat Flannery, said “the role of the HCA is continuing to evolve at a rapid pace. What was once considered an auxiliary role, is now fundamental to the delivery of direct patient care. In the last number of years, we have seen that the HSE Support Grade Job Evaluation Scheme, a scheme in which the roles of support workers were independently evaluated, deemed that the role warranted being re-banded to a higher rate of pay. It was in recognition of the fact that the role has evolved in recent years.”

“Our Union successfully negotiated for a full review of the role of the HCA, which was published in 2018. Among the recommendations of that report was that resources be made available for ongoing training and development of HCAs, to explore the possibility of having HCAs as professionally registered grade; and explore career pathways for HCAs. The Union is working hard to make sure the recommendations of this report are fully implemented.”

“It is important to state that, as a Union, SIPTU does not just represent HCAs in the public service. SIPTU also represents HCAs in the Section 39 and private service. We encourage carers in every employment and setting to join SIPTU” Mr Flannery concluded.

SIPTU criticises Galway University Hospital’s failure to fully utilise Health Care Assistants

SIPTU representatives have criticised the management of Galway University Hospital for its failure to fully utilise Health Care Assistants (HCAs) in the provision of direct patient care in its temporary emergency department during a period of intense pressure in the facility.

SIPTU Organiser, Yvonne McGrath, said: “Our HCA members are ready, willing and able to use their skills to provide direct patient care. They feel frustrated that their expertise and skillset is not being recognised and utilised to maximum effect in order to assist with patient care within the emergency department and broader hospital.

“SIPTU representatives and hospital management had engaged under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission, on 20th July last year, concerning issues related to the role of HCAs. On that occasion it was agreed that HCAs should no longer be carrying out certain functions, that were inappropriate to their role, within the emergency department and that support services staff would be used to carry out these functions.

“Since then, there has been no agreement on how hospital support staff will be engaged to support HCAs in their work. SIPTU representatives have now referred this matter back to the WRC. However, hospital management is yet to confirm it will attend a further WRC convened meeting.”

She added: “Unfortunately, the management of Galway University Hospital is not engaging with our union with any degree of urgency to resolve this matter. Our members are ready, willing and able to use their skills to provide direct patient care with the support of their colleagues in support services.”

SIPTU member and HCA at Galway University Hospital, Martina Burke, said: “HCAs and all staff are under significant pressure in the emergency department. However, their problems pale in comparison to those of patients who in many incidences are waiting for hours for treatment. We are willing to sit down with management to try and resolve the issues that are adversely impacting staff and patients in the emergency department. However, we need our employer to engage with us and confirm its availability to attend the WRC if these matters cannot be resolved.”