Oireachtas must hear all health workers in Covid response

Oireachtas needs to hear from diverse range of health workers deployed in Covid response

Fórsa trade union, which represents 30,000 health workers, including health and social care professionals, today said it would welcome the opportunity to present evidence to the Oireachtas Health Committee on the experience of frontline health workers and Covid-19.

The union, which represents over 30,000 health professionals, said it believed Committee members would better understand the challenges of responding to Covid-19 in hospitals and community settings by hearing from the full range of health workers involved.

Fórsa’s head of health, Éamonn Donnelly, said a very significant cohort of workers, who continue to place themselves at the frontline of the pandemic, were absent from today’s important Oireachtas Committee hearing.

“A very broad range of workers and professionals have responded to, and experienced the effect of, the pandemic first hand. I believe the Oireachtas Health Committee and other politicians would gain a better understanding of the response and its challenges by hearing from them all,” he said.

He added: “Throughout 2020, our professional health members were redeployed into nursing homes, testing and swabbing, and other areas of Covid frontline response, including acute hospital services. They did so in the full understanding that their clinical skills and professionalism were needed at the forefront of very serious health crisis.

“They are not looking for praise or recognition. They were doing their job. But what the Oireachtas committee has revealed today is that some public representatives entirely failed to notice the diverse range of professions and skills that were deployed in response to Covid-19,” he said.

Mr Donnelly said Fórsa is contacting the committee’s members directly to communicate the union’s concerns that the voice of so many health workers was excluded from the discussion, and was working in conjunction with SIPTU trade union on the issue.