April 8, 2020
Agency workers must be protected – Gildernew

Sinn Féin MLAs Colm Gildernew and Caoimhe Archibald have written to the Health Minister to ask him to take action on agency workers in the health service.

Health spokesperson, Colm Gildernew said:

“The Health and Social Care Service is facing into a period of increasing and sustained pressure, as it responds to COVID-19.

“We must support all Health and Social Care Staff, so they can deliver critical services.

“One of the most pressing issues affecting some healthcare workers is the issue of self-isolating.

“It is important for staff who have symptoms to self-isolate until they are able to safely return to work. For many agency workers this becomes a difficult choice of self-isolating on Statutory Sick Pay.

“We have written to the Health Minister highlighting this issue and the actions of the Finance Minister, Conor Murphy MLA, who put in place access to enhanced sick pay and special leave entitlements for civil service agency workers; this could be the basis for a similar scheme.

“The Department could alternatively offer all agency staff temporary contracts on the same terms and conditions as Agenda for Change.

“This would go some way in reducing the cost of agency staff by bringing them into the HSC and it would also offer workers some protections.

“The current crisis is unprecedented and extremely fluid, but all necessary measures must be taken to protect the health and well-being of all health and social care staff as well as the public.”

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