Deputy Peter Burke has called on the Minister for Education Joe McHugh to give clarity to SNAs, many of whom have been told they will be redeployed in efforts to tackle COVID-19.
Deputy Burke says that while many are eager and able to be redeployed, the news for others has come as a shock and source of worry.
“I have been contacted by a number of SNAs in recent days who have serious concerns in relation to their redeployment to the HSE,” the Longford/Westmeath TD said. “We are told that they may be asked to take up roles in settings such as community facilities for children with disabilities, so that healthcare staff such as nurses can transfer to frontline services.
“However, many have childcare problems as their own children are now off school and creche so they aren’t in a position to leave them to go out and work. There are also a number of SNAs in our community who have underlying medical conditions and suppressed immune systems so working in a busy, populated work environment could be a hugely damaging to their health at this time. Many of the country’s SNAs continue to work with children over teleconferencing and the internet and are busy with this as things stand.
“SNAs were asked to access a web link last week and answer a questionnaire, already 11,000 have signed up to be redeployed which is a testament of their dedication in these challenging times. The Public Services Appointments Service and the HSE will be matching skills with local requirements. However, I am told there was not an option in the questionnaire to answer whether you are currently minding children or elderly relatives.
“I understand that Minister McHugh has stated that no SNA will be redeployed to front-line healthcare and no SNA will be given any role they he or she is unqualified for or uncomfortable with. However, the department need to come out and clarify