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Up to 15,000 carers still waiting to receive €1k pandemic bonus

Up to 15,000 carers working for private or voluntary companies on HSE contracts are still waiting for the pandemic bonus even though HSE carers have been paid.

Controversy has arisen in recent days over the slow payment of this bonus across the health sector, despite the payment being announced on January 19.

Home and Community Care Ireland chief executive Joseph Musgrave said he understood it could be as late as mid-July before payment details for some carers were finalised.

Homecare is delivered by a mix of HSE staff and carers working for voluntary or private companies under contract to the HSE.

Mary Butler, the junior minister for older people: 'Arrangements for payment should be finalised in four to six weeks.' Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Mary Butler, the junior minister for older people: 'Arrangements for payment should be finalised in four to six weeks.' Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

He said carers in private and non-profit companies are “in limbo” waiting for the bonus.

“The delay on this has been absolutely shocking. HSE staff have now been paid I understand, so HSE staff have gotten the bonus or a lot of them have,” he said.

One carer, who worked on HSE contracts for a private company during the pandemic, told the Irish Examiner on Friday she had not received the payment but all her HSE-employed colleagues had got theirs already.

On Thursday, Mr Musgrave met with Mary Butler, the junior minister for older people, and said she expected “arrangements for payment should be finalised in four to six weeks.” 


He said this was creating “real tension” among carers, with anger growing that despite their work in homes with vulnerable elderly people during the pandemic, they are being left behind.

He said he was aware of carers who walked up to 10km to their clients instead of using public transport at the height of the pandemic.

To her credit, Minister Butler said are you willing to help operationalise this, to give assurances to the HSE around payment of the money, and I said sure. We have been here the whole time

Mr Musgrave was baffled by references in the media earlier this week to health representative bodies meeting with the Department of Health as no bodies representing carers were approached, he said.

He said after a previous meeting with Ms Butler, he was put in touch with an official in the department to work on these payments. However, that person has changed jobs and a replacement has not been appointed.

“This is the most annoying thing,” he said. “Since that time I never had the department coming to us and saying can we talk.” 

'Complex task'

A Department of Health spokeswoman said work on how to roll out the bonus was “actively underway” for staff outside the HSE and HSE-funded organisations.

She described it as a “a complex task”, saying: “These employees are not normally paid by the public health service. 

Duplicate payments need to be avoided and there are many organisations to be covered

She said payment would be in line with a previous HSE statement limiting eligibility to people employed for longer than four weeks between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

Anyone whose contracted hours were equal to or greater than the full-time equivalent for their grade will get the full €1,000. People working fewer hours will get €600.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said frontline staff in most HSE hospitals are also still waiting.

“Many hospitals [are] stating that they are waiting on the HSE to give them the funds to allow them make the payment,” it said on Tuesday.