Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Older People Mary Butler has called on the Minister for Health to explain the delay in securing insurance indemnity for healthcare workers in the private sector who want to move to the public sector to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic.

She raised the issue directly with Minister Harris in the Dáil yesterday.

“The situation in our nursing homes and care facilities has reached crisis point as the Coronavirus pandemic takes hold. We were given assurances that health workers from the private sector would be able to move into public settings to plug the gaps in the system, but that still hasn’t happened”, said Deputy Butler.

“The insurance indemnity issue for these workers was meant to be sorted earlier this week, but we are still waiting. All the while, the number of clusters is increasing and people are dying.

“Nursing homes and care facilities need additional staff, many of them have seen nurses and care workers go into self-isolation because of contact with people who have tested positive, while others have contracted the virus themselves.

“I’ve been informed that to date only Section 39 agency workers who undertake work on behalf of the HSE, including working in a private nursing home, are covered by the HSE’s indemnification. This needs to be extended to all workers as a matter of urgency.

“Yesterday, Minister Harris told me he would get his officials to look into the issue, and I am urging them to ensure that the situation is resolved without any further delay”.