Fórsa and HSE management are close to completing discussions on a redeployment policy for health staff, designed to replace the policy introduced last March in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The union said the new policy will re-establish protections around consultation and dispute resolution set out in the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA). The earlier policy allowed the HSE to re-assign staff at very short notice.
Fórsa’s head of Health and Welfare Éamonn Donnelly said, “The health sector unions signed off on a redeployment policy designed to respond to the unique circumstances of the early stages of this unprecedented pandemic.
“We are now looking at something quite different, which restores specific protections for staff. We’ve worked towards a new agreement on the basis that circumstances are now quite different, despite the continuing presence of the virus.
The union said the new policy will re-establish protections around consultation and dispute resolution set out in the PSSA.
“For instance, we now know a great deal more about the virus, we have swabbing and testing staff in place, in addition to contact tracing staff. We also have the full range of non-emergency and non-Covid services up and running again, following their suspension in March. All these factors demand a different approach to any redeployment of staff,” he said.
Éamonn said a new agreement would include provision for emergency redeployment, or a ‘break-glass’ system, in the event of a spike in infection numbers beyond the upper limits of testing and tracing capacity.
This would include provision for agreed, short-term, re-assignments within the terms of the policy. Éamonn said there will also be a separate agreement for the nursing home sector.