“The work of frontline healthcare workers should not be dismissed simply because they work in homes instead of hospitals,” says Joan Carthy, National Advocacy Manager, Irish Wheelchair Association.
Irish Wheelchair Association has written to minister for health Stephen Donnelly on behalf of over two thousand healthcare workers, who are currently ineligible for the €1,000 Covid- 19 bonus payment despite working on the frontline throughout the pandemic.
In January the government announced a bonus payment for public healthcare workers who worked on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, thousands of state-funded, frontline healthcare staff who work in the community instead of hospitals and residential settings have not been included in this bonus scheme. These public-funded healthcare staff are known as Section 39 healthcare workers/ personal assistants. They visit homes providing assistance and care for people with disabilities on behalf of Irish Wheelchair Association and other organisations. Despite being funded by the HSE, these frontline healthcare workers are not eligible for the Covid-19 bonus payment.
According to Joan Carthy National Advocacy Manager, Irish Wheelchair Association:
“Frontline workers are not only the nurses and doctors who work in our hospitals or in residential settings. They are also frontline workers in communities across Ireland, who went into the homes of people with disabilities providing assistance every day of the pandemic. The Covid-19 bonus payment recognises healthcare staff who put the needs of others above their own safety, working in frightening times during the darkest days of the pandemic to make sure people across Ireland received the care they needed. Irish Wheelchair Association carers and personal assistants must be included for the massive contribution they made nationwide.”
During the pandemic over 2,200 HSE-funded Irish Wheelchair Association staff visited people with disabilities in their homes mornings, throughout the day and again at night, providing personal care and assistance, maintaining essential services for 5,600 people across the country. This service continued every single day of the pandemic.
“Since Covid- 19 began Section 39 healthcare workers/ personal assistants were treated as frontline workers by the HSE; supplied with PPE, prioritised for vaccination programmes, and prioritised for PCR testing” said Joan Carthy. “This correctly and importantly recognised the important work of Section 39 healthcare workers and personal assistants, keeping people safe and healthy in their homes during COVID 19. “
“Many Irish wheelchair Association frontline staff put their own households at risk because of their work in the community during the pandemic” according to Joan Carthy. “Mothers stopped their children from hugging them after work and staff stayed away from elderly parents for months at a time, in order to continue their work for Irish Wheelchair Association, which is funded by the HSE.”
“Irish Wheelchair Association is urging the minister and the department of health to reconsider the bonus payment criteria and extend the scheme to include Section 39 state-funded healthcare staff. On behalf of our dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly and selflessly throughout the pandemic, we have written to minister of health Stephen Donnelly asking that their work is not degraded and dismissed simply because they work in homes instead of hospitals” concluded Joan Carthy, National Advocacy Manager, Irish Wheelchair Association.
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