SIPTU has called for an increase in the number of Health Care Assistants to help alleviate the worsening staff shortages and overcrowding crises in hospitals across the country.
SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “SIPTU has repeatedly called for the immediate deployment of Health Care Assistants to alleviate the pressure on nursing staff in hospitals. We have also called for the introduction of Theatre Assistants to assist hospital surgeons with routine surgical procedures. These measures could have a very positive impact on hospital waiting times and patient care.
“To this end, SIPTU has requested that the HSE create 800 new Health Care Assistant positions. Such a move would reduce the staff to patient ratio in our hospitals and the exorbitant costs of hiring temporary agency staff, which is running in excess of €27 million for this year alone.”
He added: “It seemed as if progress had been made on this issue in recent weeks with both the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Department of Health expressing a desire to alleviate the staff shortage crisis by seeking a ‘skill mix solution’. This would result in an increased number of Health Care Assistants to support other grades of health staff. A SIPTU delegation also attended a HSE briefing on the introduction of Theatre Assistants, a new grade of health worker, earlier this year.
“However, our members are amazed that health service management has yet to engage with the union representing these vital health workers on either of these issues. The Minister for Health, Leo Vardakar, and HSE officials need to immediately commence a dialogue on increasing the number and roles of Health Care Assistants with the union which represents these workers. Our members have a clear message and that is stop talking about us and start talking to us”. Bell concluded.