Denis Naughten has welcomed a commitment by the Taoiseach to examine his proposal to offer additional paid leave to frontline healthcare workers.
Speaking during Leaders Question in the Dáil today (Wednesday), Denis Naughten pointed out that now is the time to recognise the commitment of doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants proposing “I believe the very minimum we should offer them is additional paid leave”.
Denis Naughten told the Dáil: “This week it has been agreed that Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan is to be awarded the Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin. An honour he rightly deserves. Together with the now Tánaiste and the now Minister for Further and Higher Education, he was the steady hand we needed as we navigated our way through the pandemic and the nation drew reassurance from his calm demeanour during his daily briefings.
“I believe the time is now right to also recognise the work of all frontline health workers. Many of our doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants placed themselves at risk to go to work every day to keep us safe and to care for those who were seriously ill.
“Many of them made huge personal sacrifices during this time, including moving out of their homes and away from their families in some cases to keep them safe, while continuing to provide care not alone for those with Covid but also others who needed hospital care during uncertain times.
“These healthcare workers have worked long hours in extremely difficult circumstances, and we must now stop and recognise the work they have done on behalf of us all. These people have been selfless, and our country owes them a huge debt of gratitude.”
Proposing recognition of their service, he added: “If it is not possible to reward them with pay increases or some form of bonus system, then I believe the very minimum we should offer them is additional paid leave. Time to spend with the families they may have sacrificed precious family time with or, indeed, time out to recover from the physical and emotional tiredness they must undoubtedly be feeling.
“Now is the time for us to come together as a country and offer our healthcare workers more than a round of applause to acknowledge their work and sacrifices.”
Responding to the proposal, An Taoiseach committed to honouring the pay agreements that will fall due this autumn and told Denis Naughten: “ The Government will examine the Deputy’s suggestion and proposal. I am conscious of the point the Deputy raised and the importance of recognition of people who went to exceptional lengths to help people on an individual basis and, by so doing, helped the country at large to get through this crisis.”