IMPACT calls on health minister to reverse HSE decision to delay travel payments

Wednesday 30th November 2011

IMPACT official Louise O’Donnell has called on health minister James Reilly to instruct HSE management to reverse its decision to delay the payment of travel costs already incurred by HSE staff.

The minister yesterday told RTÉ’s Primetime programme the he did not support the HSE move. Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme this morning, Ms O’Donnell called on him to instruct the HSE to reverse the decision.

IMPACT has also sought an immediate meeting with HSE management, who made the announcement to journalists – not staff or their unions – late yesterday afternoon. The union has advised staff who travel in the course of their jobs to continue doing so pending clarification of the situation.

The union says rural and urban health services will suffer badly if the HSE refuses to cover the transport costs incurred by social workers, environmental health officers, care workers, public health nurses and other health staff.

The union was responding to a surprise HSE media statement that it was to stop paying transport costs for staff who deliver services to people’s homes and community health centres, and those who enforce public health regulations.

IMPACT said reimbursement of travel costs – recently cut by 25% – was not a staff benefit. Rather it was reimbursement for petrol and other costs incurred by staff who use their own cars, or public transport, to deliver personal services or enforce public health protections in rural and urban communities.

IMPACT official Louise O’Donnell said: “The extraordinary announcement that the HSE is not going to cover transport costs for the delivery of services puts personal services to vulnerable individuals at risk, especially in rural areas. It means staff will be confined to base while people wait in vain for services.”

The union pointed out that travel payments were not a staff benefit or entitlement. “Transport payments are only made after a staff member is instructed to travel to perform their duties and has the travel approved by a manager as essential to the delivery of services,” a spokesperson said.

Read a copy of the letter HERE.