Pandemic bonus 'now being processed' by HSE

Pandemic bonus 'now being processed' by HSE

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly accepted it had taken far too long to process and finalise the pandemic bonus. File picture: Moya Nolan

Four months after it was approved, the €1,000 pandemic bonus for frontline healthcare staff is finally being paid out, the health minister has confirmed.

Stephen Donnelly said several thousand eligible frontline healthcare workers have received the payment in recent days and he hopes all the others will get their payment as quickly as possible.

He was speaking in Cork on Friday after meeting two staff members at the Mercy University Hospital who confirmed their pandemic recognition payment had finally landed in their accounts the day before.

The €1,000 payment, which is being paid to healthcare workers to recognise their unique role during the pandemic, was approved by Government last January.

But the payout was delayed because of work that was required to expand the payment to more groups of workers, including those that are not employed by the HSE or Section 38 agencies, such as private sector nursing homes staff and hospice staff.

Mr Donnelly accepted it had taken far too long to process and finalise.

“It is now being processed by the HSE,” he said.

“There was a lot of engagement between the representative bodies for the workers and the HSE in terms of different groups of people.

“So, for example, some were very straightforward — people who are directly employed in the hospitals, like nurses and clinicians and so forth, [but] I wanted to make sure for example, that people working as cleaners in hospitals, who we may not directly employ, people working in catering in hospitals, people working in other patient-facing roles, that they too got the payment.

"So there has been a lot of technical work.

I think it’s taken longer than any than any of us would want, but the reason is to make sure that we get the money out to all those groups of people, as well as the obvious ones.

“My understanding is that thousands have been paid. And we just want to get everyone else paid now as quickly as possible.” 

Cork Covid test centre closes

Meanwhile, in another sign of the lessening prevalence and impact of Covid-19, the Lee Covid test centre, which opened on the northside of Cork City in September 2020, closed on Friday. 

Staff there carried out an estimated 290,675 swabs over the 19-months. Many have now been invited to apply for other healthcare roles.

There is now one Covid-19 test centre in Cork City, on the South Douglas Road.

The HSE said it was adapting the testing and tracing programme to respond to these changes, while at the same time making sure both the infrastructure and staff are available if testing needs to scale up again quickly.

All testing centres are expected to close later this year.

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