The majority of healthcare workers are still awaiting their pandemic payment of up to €1,000 as it was revealed yesterday that some nurses are so heavy they have to turn to food banks.
It was paid for by Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital and there is hope that HSE-run hospitals will add it to this month’s wages, but it’s unclear how soon all volunteer hospitals will receive the funding.
It comes as nurses heard of the financial plight of a growing number of their colleagues at the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization (INMO) annual conference.
Mick Schnackenberg, general nurse at Tullamore Hospital, said: “As a nurse living in the Midlands, I can tell you that nurses are not immune to food poverty. At least six nurses receive support from panels. That is shocking in 2022.”
He told the Sligo gathering, attended by Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly: “Over the last three days we have heard about the pressures we are all under at our workplaces, but it is not just the pressures we are feeling at work.
“The cost of commuting to work, particularly for those working in the community, is skyrocketing.
“We also work in circumstances where we are suffering the effects of inflation and (caregivers) are facing real economic difficulties to provide for themselves and their families in the economic climate.
“Our members must not be exposed to the ravages of inflation as frontline workers who spend most of their income to meet the daily needs of themselves and their families.
“We are being pounded by steep increases in fuel costs. We don’t have the option to work from home. I have colleagues who are forced to take vacations because they cannot afford to buy groceries for their children’s school lunches and also pay for commuting and exorbitant parking fees.
“It’s 2022, nurses and midwives have proven themselves. In the context of public salary negotiations, we need the government to give our nurses and midwives relief.”
INMO President Karen McGowan told the Minister: “It takes something to be a nurse or a midwife before we even cross the threshold of our job.
“We don’t have the ability to work from home one or two days a week. If we are enlisted, we are expected to show up. It’s a significant expense if you have to travel to and from work for each shift.
“We drive long distances because we can no longer afford to buy or rent a house close to where we work. This is not just an urban phenomenon.”
Mr Donnelly was told the goods had disappeared from payment because it had dragged on for so long.
The minister, who paid tribute to the heroic work of nurses during the pandemic, said it becomes meaningless in the face of what they have been doing.
He said: “I would have liked to have paid for it three months ago, but we had to get it right.”
Acknowledging how the Ukraine crisis has affected the cost of living, he said exploratory talks on a new collective bargaining agreement would begin next week to speed up talks.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health-staff-still-waiting-on-1000-covid-bonus-as-some-turn-to-food-banks-for-help-41623840.html Health workers are still waiting for a €1,000 Covid bonus as some turn to food banks for help