28 Jun 2022

Longford's St Joseph's Care Centre staff being left "high and dry" by delays to Covid bonus payment rollout

St Joseph's Care Centre

St Joseph's Care Centre

Government bosses have been accused of "hypocrisy" and leaving frontline staff "high and dry" amid claims dozens of staff in St Joseph's Care Centre in Longford are  still waiting for their €1,000 Covid-19 bonus payment.

The pandemic bonus payment of up to €1,000 for healthcare workers in private nursing homes and hospices, which suffered some of the worst impacts of Covid-19, was first announced by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly in January.

Its rollout, however, has been much slower than anticipated with thousands of staff still nowhere nearer to learning when the payment will be issued.

A number of those affected are believed to include frontline personnel in Longford's St Joseph's Care Centre in a move which has sparked an angry response at local political level.

Longford County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Peggy Nolan accused said the delay was unacceptable given the many personal sacrifices staff had made over the past two years.

"This whole debacle is verging on hypocrisy," she stormed.

"We depended on this group of staff to keep all our elderly safe through Covid and they did at great risk to their own safety.

"We banged pots and we banged windows and we lit windows and now it’s about time we banged on the Government’s door and say: "Pay them and pay them without any further delay."

Cllr Nolan said besides the great lengths healthcare workers went to since the arrival of Coronavirus in March 2020, there was an onus on the State to ensure their efforts were not taken for granted should further health crises materialise in the future.

"This is bordering on absolute hypocrisy," she added.

"The nation needs to know that if we get another virus, anything on the scale of Covid that these people will realise that they are really appreciated and that it’s not just hypocrisy."

Dublin Mid Leinster HSE Health Forum members Cllrs PJ Reilly and Paul Ross followed suit with both calling on HSE chiefs to expedite the payment to eligible staff as a matter of urgency.

"It is regrettable this payment hasn’t been made because a lot of staff had banked on this payment," said Cllr Ross.

"The minister said back in April this would be made and made available at the next available slot but we are now in the middle of June and I would like to see this being rolled out as soon as possible so as to not leave staff waiting any longer."

Under the workings of the payment, any healthcare staff who between March 1st, 2020, and June 30th, 2021, worked in a frontline environment that warranted their inclusion in the first two priority sequence groups for the Covid-19 vaccine will be eligible for the payment.

The Leader has sought a response from HSE senior management and is currently awaiting a response.

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