Aontú Rep for Slane Peter Whelan has expressed significant concern over the punishment of two paramedics in Drogheda, and the ongoing plight of our frontline healthcare heroes.

Whelan: “This story is of grave concern, not only to myself, but countless frontline healthcare workers who fear the same will happen to them in due course. Two paramedics in Drogheda had treated a patient inadvertently without a mask. A complaint was filed from overseas by not even the patient themselves. As a punishment for this inadvertent error, the two paramedics have been transferred to 12 hour shifts cleaning ambulances since the 31st of July. There is no time limit to this punishment.”

“This is despite the fact employees have nothing in writing to say it is mandatory to wear face masks. In the policies and procedures handbook there is no reference to this type of disciplinary action. To add insult to injury, there was a call last Friday, 31st July for an ambulance in Drogheda where the two paramedics were. Normally they could have been there within minutes, instead, because of their confinement to base, it took an ambulance 35 minutes to arrive from outside of the area.”

“There is no written directive to wear face masks, rather staff do so voluntarily and in good faith. This was an isolated accident attributable to the extreme pressures our frontline healthcare staff are constantly under. The draconian nature of this punishment is disproportionate to the accidental offence, and shows minimal regard for the conscientiousness frontline healthcare staff bring to everything they do. This punishment has had an adverse effect on their mental health, and also exacerbated the already crippling workloads their colleagues face.”

“We all presume paramedics are tested frequently, but this is not the case. Even though they are swabbing patients who may be infected with COVID, they only get tested if they get symptoms. Temperature checks are not even carried out on a regular basis. Paramedics are not permitted to speak to the media, but they feel management use these bully-boy tactics without being held to account. This has to stop before something serious goes wrong. People’s mental health and well-being are at risk here. Leaving aside the personal hurt and emotional mind games being inflicted on these important front line workers, the other big concern is that because of this mis-management there are times when Drogheda is without an ambulance while having two able crew members cleaning for 12 hours.”

“It is important to state that the two members who are receiving this punishment, did not come forward to explain or speak to me. This has been the final straw from some of their tired and worn-out colleagues who feel it could be them next. This is not what gives confidence to a public who are regularly asked by our Government leaders to thank publicly our front-line workers.”