Local Independent Deputy, Denis Naughten, has called for a definitive date for the full reopening of all day services following confirmation from the HSE that all older people and adults with underlying health conditions have been fully vaccinated
“It is unacceptable that State funded day services for people with a disability and older people remain closed, or only available for part of the week, despite the fact that both users and staff are fully vaccinated,” Dep Naughten said.
“At present people using disability training centres are getting as little as one day a week while older people have had no access to a day service whatsoever since March 2020 and this is all because we are still awaiting public health advice and a Government direction on the reopening of these vital services.
“The HSE CEO Paul Reid has confirmed that as of last Friday all older people and adults with underlying health conditions have been fully vaccinated, so there is absolutely no reason not to set a clear date for the full reopening of all day services.
“Older people and people with a disability have suffered the most over the last 16 months, so why are they not now entitled to a vaccine bonus?
“I hope that Government will make a decision this week on the reopening of these vital services because it is completely unacceptable that the doors of these vital days services, for the most vulnerable in our society, remain closed or are only open for part of the week.”
Exhausted health staff have to await bonus deal
Meanwhile, Deputy Naughten has confirmed that frontline health workers will have to wait for a pandemic bonus deal across the public service before they get access to additional time off in recognition of their work.
“Despite the fact that staff on the frontline within our health service have been put in a unique position during this pandemic, exposing themselves and their families to the risk of Covid infection, they will have to wait for a negotiated bonus deal across the public service,” he said.
“While there is no doubt that right across the public service, staff have worked in challenging circumstances, the fact remains that no group of public sector workers have put their lives and those of their families at risk to a greater extent than our healthcare workers.”
Denis Naughten outlined to the Dáil yesterday that “many of them have put their hands into their own pockets to do so, paying for alternative accommodation in order that they would not infect a vulnerable person in their home or for additional childcare, if it was available, in order that they could cover for sick colleagues.
“All workers either in the private or public sector who kept direct person to person services going through the pandemic, and faced a far greater risk of infection, need to be uniquely recognised and they should not have to await a broader pay agreement with the social partners and trade unions
“As I pointed out to the Tánaiste in the Dáil many healthcare staff are physically and mentally exhausted facing into the fourth wave of this virus, dealing with the significant impact of the cyberattack, covering staffing shortages due to Covid infection and long Covid, and now facing a backlog in waiting times for appointments and procedures.
“These staff need time off to recover before they break down completely. Exhausted healthcare staff are a recipe for mistakes, with potentially fatal consequences for patients and very significant financial consequences for the State.”