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Today (16th April) UNISON is demanding that health and social care authorities in Northern Ireland take immediate action to address alarming issues and prevent the spread of Covid-19 across care homes, residential homes and when care is provided to people in their own homes. UNISON Regional Secretary, Patricia McKeown said:

 

Are you a health or social care worker concerned about Covid-19? 

Health and social care employers have released an updated questions and answers guide for all workers. UNISON is regularly asking for these to be updated to answer questions and concerns that our members raise with us:

https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/guidance-hsc-staff/questions-and-answers-hsc-staff

Tonight at 8pm the public is being asked to show its support for UNISON members and all those working in frontline public services responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. The public should join in a mass round of applause at 8pm while staying in their homes.

Thousands of people working in the NHS, social care and local services have contacted a UNISON hotline in the last week expressing anxiety at the lack of gloves, masks, eye protectors and gowns where they work.

Staff from across the UK’s public services say they’re scared that without the right protective equipment, they risk catching the virus and passing it on to their families, or the elderly and vulnerable people they work with and care for.

The Education Authority has released some Frequently Asked Questions to assist Education staff in their queries about schools remaining open over the Easter Holidays. 

Who should schools engage to provide cover over the Easter holidays where a school is remaining open?

Where requests for additional staff are received, the sequential approach the EA will take to identifying available workforce to support these schools will be as follows:

UNISON notes the announcement by the Minister for Health that 20 of our care homes now have cases of Covid-19. Responding to this announcement, UNISON Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown said:

‘‘Our care homes have up to 16,000 residents all at risk. The homes have the potential to become petri dishes for the virus unless immediate testing, isolation and tracking commences.  

The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is concerned at reports that women in Northern Ireland are unable to access urgent abortion healthcare, despite the fact that new laws legalising abortion in Northern Ireland were brought into force at the end of March 2020.

On 23 March UNISON called for increased testing across Northern Ireland as a matter of urgency.  We did so because leading public health experts were echoing Dr Michael Ryan of the WHO on a daily basis.  Today's article in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/01/absolutely-wrong-how-uk-coronavirus-test-strategy-unravelled must give us all cause for concern. 

The HSC Trusts across Northern Ireland have established a dedicated Covid-19 Helpline to address concerns and protect wellbeing for staff during the Coronavirus pandemic.

An email (shown below) has been circulated through the Trust network with a link to useful numbers for staff.

WORKFORCE COVID-19 - all helplines NOW OPEN

We recognise our staff are understandably anxious about the current COVID-19 situation and we are taking further measures to address your concerns and to protect your health and wellbeing.

It is with deep sadness that we learn today of the death from Covid -19 of our colleague and sister Margaret Beck from Sunderland in UNISON's Northern Region. Patricia McKeown, NI Regional Secretary said "Margaret was a champion for women's rights, workers rights and her local community both as a trade unionist and local councillor.

On behalf of our membership in Northern Ireland we salute her and send condolences to her family. We all dread this news but must take the time to mark a life well lived."

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