Government must table proposals to compensate our healthcare workers

16 August 2021

Labour leader and health spokesperson Alan Kelly has reiterated his call to Government to pay a pandemic bonus to honour and recognise the work that healthcare workers have done to slow the spread of Covid. Backing health unions call to the Taoiseach to intervene, Deputy Kelly said he is taken aback that no proposal has been put forward by the Government or the HSE.

Deputy Kelly said:

“Last April I proposed, that as a gesture, the State gift our healthcare workers a €1,000 pandemic payment to honour and recognise the work that healthcare workers have done to slow the spread of this virus and for all they are doing and will continue to do to try keep us and our loved ones safe. On Friday, health unions had to write to the Taoiseach to ask him to intervene between the HSE and Government Departments to bring forward the promised recognition. This is madness and insulting to all healthcare workers who turned up to work when everyone else was asked to stay at home.

“18 months ago nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants, lab scientists, and multiple other workers across our hospitals and primary care system faced a nightmare scenario of a virus with no vaccine or cure. Our healthcare workers reported to the frontline of the fight against Covid-19, often with little or no PPE at the start, and have delivered care for the Irish people despite extremely difficult conditions. They had to self-isolate away from their families often for weeks so that they could provide the frontline care. They are heroes but they’ve had enough of platitudes – they need to be compensated for their work.

“Countries across the world have given a financial bonus to healthcare workers – France have given an average of a €183 a month pay rise to healthcare workers, NHS workers in Scotland received a £500 bonus, frontline workers in Canada have received a $1,200 bonus.

“I raised this with the Taoiseach on the last sitting day of Dáil term urging him to extend an olive branch to these workers and pay them a pandemic bonus. The Government has been very quick to praise the work of healthcare workers but their only recompense so far are a few kind words and a buladh bos from the public. That’s just wrong in the context of the largest public health crisis we have ever faced as a State.

“In February, the Tánaiste suggested a cash payment or extra leave should be provided to healthcare workers as a thank you. Is this just another example of the Government speaking out both sides of its mouth? The Government needs to table proposals to compensate our healthcare workers.”

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