Potentially life-saving initiative for members of the SIPTU Nurses & Midwives Salary Protection Scheme

SIPTU has teamed up with Cornmarket this January to tackle cancer through ‘Pink & Blue Power’, a potentially life-saving breast and prostate health programme for members of the SIPTU Nurses & Midwives Salary Protection Scheme. This salary protection scheme is open to SIPTU Nurses, Midwives, National Ambulance Service personnel and Health Care Assistants in the public service. More information is available here.

The aim of Pink & Blue Power is to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of breast and prostate cancer, while providing members with vital education, the opportunity for a once-off clinical physical assessment with a GP and a referral for further tests if needed. Women aged 30 to 49 and men aged 40 to 65 in the Scheme will be invited to attend.

Invites will be posted in 2024 in three rollout blocks (alphabetically by first name) as follows:
Rollout 1: posted in January
Rollout 2: posting in May
Rollout 3: posting in July

Places are limited and on a first-come, first served basis so book early to avoid disappointment. The cost of participating is covered by the Scheme.

The Pink & Blue Power programme was launched in response to a high level of cancer claims, and in recognition that 1 in 9 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, while 1 in 7 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. As we all know awareness and early intervention is crucial. The programme works. In a post programme survey, 92% said they know what to look for when self-checking their breasts compared to only 40% before participating.

This programme can help save lives so if you get an invite, we strongly encourage you to book.
For more, visit cornmarket.ie.

Pink & Blue Power is a benefit of the SIPTU Nurses & Midwives’ Salary Protection Scheme.

Not a member of the Scheme? Visit www.cornmarket.ie/siptu for more on benefits and how to apply.

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.”

SIPTU says employment permits do not resolve retention issues of home care workers

A recent government announcement that 1,000 General Employment permits will be made available for home care workers from January 2023 will not address the core issues of recruitment and retention of carers in the home care sector, according to SIPTU Organiser, Pat Flannery.

He said: “SIPTU members have previously raised concerns following publication of the ‘Report of the Strategic Workforce Advisory Group on Home Carers and Nursing Home Healthcare Assistants’ in September 2022 that the recommendations did not go far enough to address the crisis of staffing within the sector.

“The announcement made on 30th November last by junior minister, Damien English, that work permits will be made available for home care workers from January 2023 shows a lack of imagination in how the Department intends to deal with the shortage of Health Care Assistants in the home care sector.

“Our members are concerned that the disparity in basic pay and in terms and conditions of employment will continue to exist between workers in public and private employments within the home care sector. As a consequence, workers will continue to vote with their feet and go to work in public employments.

“We note that Damien English has said that the permits being made available will be for full-time positions with a minimum salary of €27,000. A Health Care Support Assistant in the HSE can earn up to €38, 290 and has access to far more favourable terms and conditions of employment including premium payments, travel and mileage payments, as well as access to a pension scheme, which is not available to their private sector counterparts in many instances.

“SIPTU is calling on the minister to prioritise addressing poorer working conditions within the private home care sector and for the Union to be represented on the ‘Implementation Group for the Report of the Strategic Workforce Advisory Group’ which has been established by the Department of Health.”