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30 Nov 2021

'Healthcare workers must not be exempt from five day isolation rule' - Unions

'Healthcare workers must not be exempt from 5 Day Isolation Rule' - Unions

'Healthcare workers must not be exempt from 5 Day Isolation Rule' - Unions

The National Joint Council group of healthcare unions have written to the HSE opposing the expected plan to exempt healthcare workers from the latest 5-day isolation rule.

Household contacts of a person who has tested positive for Covid-19 are required to restrict their movements for 5 days. 

National Joint Council Chairperson, Tony Fitzpatrick said healthcare unions are 'strongly opposed' to the comments made by Paul Reid at a press conference saying he will be seeking a derogation to exempt healthcare workers from the new five-day isolation rule.

"We cannot repeat the mistakes of previous derogations that allowed healthcare workers to be exempt from public health advice. We know in the past that allowing healthcare workers to be exempt we saw infections spike among healthcare workers and patients, particularly when it came to the care of older people." he added.

Mr. Fitzpatrick said healthcare workers should not be treated differently in terms of public health advice and the HSE and Government need to take the concerns of patient-facing staff seriously.

"We cannot have a situation where the highest cohort of workers who are dealing with unvaccinated patients and working in environments with poor ventilation like many of our healthcare settings, are putting their colleagues and loved ones at further risk." he said. 

Mr. Fitzparick said: "As representatives of healthcare workers, we want to make it clear to the Health Service Executive, Taoiseach, and Minister for Health that our members will not accept this. We are already seeing over 4,500 healthcare workers out of work because of this virus, we cannot allow a carte blanche decision that is not rooted in public health advice to be made."

CEO of the HSE, Paul Reid said the HSE is seeking a derogation in the 'stay at home' policy for close contacts and the derogation from the five-day rule would be sought for asymptomatic staff.

Mr. Reid said he is 'extremely conscious' of his duty of care to staff

4,400 staff are out as positive cases or symptomatic cases which has a 'significant' impact on hospitals. 

"We are conscious of any concerns that trade unions will have but we will be working through with NPHET in terms of what we believe is an appropriate derogation." he added.

611 patients are in hospital with Covid-19 and 118 patients are in ICU with the virus at present.

Yesterday, Minister for Education Norma Foley said she did not believe teachers should be exempt from the 5-day isolation rule as the best medical advice 'should apply to all'.

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