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Government is committed to recognising nurses and healthcare workers – Taoiseach

DUBLIN: This International News Week brings good news for Irish nurses and all healthcare workers. Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that the Government is committed to recognising the dedication and contribution of nurses and all healthcare workers during the pandemic.

The Taoiseach said the role of nurses and midwives has changed significantly over the past year, and that they have shown great innovation and responsiveness in caring for patients. Mr. Martin added that the government is committed to protecting the health sector and health workers, as well as to continued development of the profession.

The Taoiseach was speaking at the annual conference of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) on Thursday. He told the conference that work was ongoing to determine the best way to support nurses and health workers in Ireland.

He also said that he wanted to acknowledge student nurses who continued their education during the pandemic. He said the government is implementing a report prepared by Prof Tom Collins, including a €100 per week pandemic placement grant. The government had also commissioned a long-term review of student allowances and internship pay, he added.

Enough of praises; action is required

Nurses and health workers are only receiving words of gratitude and appreciation, but they do not receive the compensation or additional leaves they deserve. This is exactly what INMO President Karen McGowan is pointing out here. He urged the government to stop considering its compensation or recognition proposals and to begin putting them into action.

Last November, the INMO lodged a claim with the HSE requesting 10 days of additional leave for nurses and midwives as compensation for work done during the pandemic. But no action has been taken so far in this regard. However, the union has stated that on the second day of its annual conference today, they will consider an emergency motion calling for compensation for frontline healthcare workers.

The INMO said frontline nurses and midwives suffering from long-term COVID-19 symptoms are not receiving the required medical or job assistance. Long-term symptoms include extreme fatigue, brain fog, breathing difficulty, heart problems, and vision impairment. Nurses who are suffering from symptoms for months after being infected with the Corona virus will speak at today’s conference.

INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “The HSE need to lead the charge on this and implement the measures that our members are calling for. This is a condition people are acquiring at work and their workplaces need to step up and give them the support they need.”

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