Rural and urban health services will suffer if HSE stops meeting transport costs

Tuesday 29 November 2011

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, IMPACT said this evening (Tuesday). 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.