This is an exceptionally difficult time for the health service and those who work in it. The role of the INMO is to support your work and ensure that you are protected and treated fairly.
The latest updates during this pandemic are always on https://www.inmo.ie/Covid19. Here are some of the key issues we are working on:
1. Priority testing: The INMO have secured priority testing for healthcare workers. There have been some unacceptable delays, but the new policy of priority testing should improve things. When awaiting results, the INMO’s view is that the rule of self-isolation for 14 days with pay must continue. Pressure on staffing levels cannot mean we compromise the health of nurses and midwives.
2. Redeployment: If you are asked to redeploy outside of your normal workplace and are uncertain about doing so, contact your local INMO official for advice and assistance. The same applies if you are offered alternative accommodation, as some private nursing home staff may be.
3. Personal protective equipment (PPE): You are not required to provide care in a situation where there is a risk to your health due to a lack of PPE. Appropriate PPE should be available when and where you need it.
The INMO’s position is that every nurse and midwife in every workplace should wear at least a facemask. Decisions on PPE should be in accordance with both the HSE guidance, but also in line with what your own professional risk assessment considers necessary.
The HSE has not yet issued guidance calling for universal face masks, but you can read our formal letter to HSE here. Nurses and midwives must protect themselves and insist on the PPE they require.
To report PPE problems, INMO members can contact their INMO rep or, failing that, call the INMO PPE freephone hotline on 1800 320 08. More details on that on our update page: https://www.inmo.ie/Covid19
4. Childcare: The lack of childcare is a major issue for INMO members, especially since the closure of creches and schools. We are raising this issue with government repeatedly, seeking a scheme for nurses and midwives’ children to be cared for safely, without a loss of income. Our letter to HSE is here.
If you cannot attend work because of childcare, you need to notify your manager in writing and let the INMO know.
5. Pregnant workers: The INMO believes that the HSE’s stance requiring pregnant workers is incorrect and does not consider fully the risks of the COVID-19 treatment on pregnant workers.
The INMO’s view is that pregnant workers should be redeployed to non-frontline roles and should not be rostered in high-risk areas. Our correspondence with the HSE on this is here. You should insist on this safety measure and if you encounter any difficulty please ring the INMO.
As ever, the latest updates and information on these and other issues are on our regularly update COVID-19 webpage: https://www.inmo.ie/Covid19 .
Is mise le meas,
Phil Ní Sheaghdha
General Secretary, INMO