Thousands of frontline workers during the COVID-19 emergency are still waiting for a €1,000 “recognition payment” promised to them by the government.
New figures have shown around 86,000 non-HSE workers who were eligible for the payment announced 10 months ago by the government are still awaiting payment – including 46,000 who work in care homes and hospice groups.
Some 46,000 nursing home and hospice group workers at 446 nursing homes and 13 hospice groups are set to receive the payment as nursing homes and hospice groups were hit hard during the the first and third wave of COVID-19.
Other healthcare workers who are not part of the HSE but who can receive the payment include 15,000 employees in Section 39 organizations – this includes the aforementioned hospices and care homes, as well as mental health providers , home care providers, small community groups and social care services.
According to figures provided to health unions, 5,000 to 10,000 agency workers employed by 117 agencies and 15,000 employees who work in home care agencies are also still awaiting payment.
Tony Fitzpatrick, from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, told the Irish Independent that the late payment ‘takes away the good of what was meant to be a goodwill gesture on the part of the state’ .
“This payment was first announced exactly 10 months ago,” said Mr. Fitzpatrick, director of industrial relations at INMO. “It is time to remove any uncertainty surrounding his administration. According to figures from the Ministry of Health, more than 86,000 people are still waiting for this payment.
“It is unacceptable that this cohort faces such uncertainty. The department is advancing at such a snail’s pace that it takes away the good from what should have been a commercial gesture on the part of the State.
“Our members who are putting their health and safety on the line during one of our country’s darkest hours have no idea when they will receive what they have been promised. This is disheartening for workers who are overworked and overburdened by the health service.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said in the Dáil that non-HSE healthcare organizations were being asked to self-assess the amount due to them in the recognition payment, as “the HSE is very nervous about making payments and overpayments to Section 39 and private organizations.” .’
Minister Donnelly added that the department would make the payments before verifying them to speed up the process.
The bonus was originally due to be given to frontline healthcare workers in February or March this year, however, a dispute has erupted over how much and how many staff qualify to receive it.
It was later pushed back to June, and while some people received it, thousands are still waiting for their money.