Frontline must not be exempt from 5 day rule

'We cannot repeat the mistakes of previous derogations'- National Joint Council Chairperson, Tony Fitzpatrick

Unions representing frontline healthcare workers are demanding that they are not exempt from the new five-day rule to self-isolate if a member of their household becomes infected with COVID-19,

The National Joint Council group of healthcare unions have written to the HSE opposing this plan, following the announcement by HSE Chief Executive Officer, Paul Reid.

National Joint Council Chairperson, Tony Fitzpatrick said: “Healthcare unions – the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, SIPTU and Fórsa are strongly opposed to the comments made by HSE CEO, Paul Reid at a press conference earlier today where he stated that he will be seeking a derogation to exempt healthcare workers from the new five-day isolation rule.

“We cannot repeat the mistakes of previous derogations that allowed healthcare workers to be exempt from public health advice. We know in the past that allowing healthcare workers to be exempt we saw infections spike among healthcare workers and patients, particularly when it came to the care of older people.”

Mr Fitzpatrick went on to state that healthcare workers “should not be treated differently” in terms of public health advice. “The HSE and Government need to take the concerns of patient-facing staff seriously,” he added. “We cannot have a situation where the highest cohort of workers who are dealing with unvaccinated patients and working in environments with poor ventilation like many of our healthcare settings, are putting their colleagues and loved ones at further risk.”

The derogation that the CEO of the HSE is seeking the group of unions say “will not help” to prevent the spread of the disease.

“As representatives of healthcare workers, we want to make it clear to the Health Service Executive, Taoiseach and Minister for Health that our members will not accept this. We are already seeing over 4,500 healthcare workers out of work because of this virus, we cannot allow a carte blanche decision that is not rooted in public health advice to be made,” concluded Mr Fitzpatrick.