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NI Department of Health care staff mobile home plans intolerable, say unions


Criticism: Rita Devlin

Criticism: Rita Devlin

Criticism: Rita Devlin

Health bosses wanted care home staff to live in a mobile home under lockdown plans to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Two of the biggest health unions have hit out at proposals put forward by the Department of Health in a bid to slash the number of care home residents dying from Covid-19.

It emerged last month that Robin Swann was considering a scheme that would involve some care home staff staying on site for a period of time. Under the controversial Safe At Home model, staff would be tested for Covid-19 ahead of living in at a care home, but the proposed scheme was rejected by unions.

However, Mr Swann pressed ahead with the scheme as a pilot.

Yesterday a range of health unions, including the Royal College of Nursing and Unison, addressed the Stormont health committee and said they were not consulted about the plans.

They told MLAs the first they became aware of the plans was when they were contacted by members, who were alarmed after care home managers began drawing up 'live in' rotas to begin the following week.

Explaining why the unions could not support the proposals, Rita Devlin from the RCN said there was no clear scientific rationale for the proposals and no clarity as to whether staff would be paid for isolating for 48 hours before moving into a care home.

She said there was no indication whether consideration had been given to the mental and physical wellbeing of staff, and also said one home was proposing to accommodate staff in a mobile home.

This was unacceptable given trust staff were being accommodated in hotels, she added.

Unions also hit out at delays by officials over several matters, such as guidance for care homes.

Belfast Telegraph