Frontline healthcare workers who have been fighting the pandemic for 15 months need additional time off, Galway TD Denis Naughten has said.
Speaking in the Leaders Questions on Tuesday, Deputy Naughten said that in the past 15 months, frontline staff in the health service have dealt with three waves of COVID-19, and a cyber attack that has seriously hampered operations.
The Independent TD said that he first raised this issue of providing additional paid time off for frontline workers with the Taoiseach in July of last year.
“These people are now mentally and physically exhausted,” Denis Naughten said, “We must provide staff with time off because exhausted healthcare staff are a recipe for mistakes”.
“They have been selfless and the country owes them a great debt of gratitude. The Government must now recognise their efforts.”
He referenced the fact that the Scottish government made a pledge in December, that every member of the NHS and social care worker would receive a £500 COVID-19 bonus.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin responded that the government is examining options for recognising all frontline workers, not just those in the health service.
“However, we are not out of the pandemic yet and all our attention and focus are on making sure we continue with progress on the vaccination programme and the very positive impact the vaccination programme is having on the prevalence of the disease,” Micheál Martin said.
He added that focus must also be kept on monitoring variants, such as the Delta variant which has become so widespread in the UK, to ensure they do not undermine efforts made to control the pandemic to date.