At the ICTU Executive Council meeting, today affiliated Trade Unions representing healthcare workers both North and South of the border raised concerns about the long-term effects on this workforce of the pandemic and the continuing pressures of providing care in hospitals and long-term care facilities.
ICTU have requested a strengthening of the health and safety protections for workers across the health service and in that regard a supplementing of the workforce of the Health and Safety Authority and Executives, and a renewed focus in their activities, to undertake inspections and support workers in a timely manner.
The focus of governments rightly is on protecting the health of the public and the ICTU supports additional measures which have recently been announced to protect the public and potentially reduce pressures on health services through reducing transmission of the virus.
However, the focus must not be lost on the health services as a place of work, which is a high-risk environment in battling this pandemic when people present for care who are infected and require appropriate, immediate, and emergency interventions.
The full protections available to this workforce must include ensuring, as far as possible, workloads that are manageable, and where capacity is exceeded in the public hospital systems, that immediate measures, inclusive of requisitioning of all available assistance in the private hospital sector, are obtained to the full extent now, to ensure all health services and facilities are considered as one when dealing with this catastrophic pandemic.