Pregnant paramedics ‘forced’ to take sick leave

Staff association says ambulance staff unable to get sick benefits for workplace injuries

Female paramedics who become pregnant are regularly placed on sick leave because the ambulance service is unable to find alternative jobs for them away from front-line duties, their union has claimed.

The National Ambulance Service Representative Association says its women members fear they may be discriminated against as a result of the failure of management to identify opportunities for redeployment during pregnancy.

The association also claims ambulance personnel are being obstructed by management from accessing HSE long-term absence benefits when they are injured at work.

National secretary Michael Dixon said the treatment of injured paramedics under the injury-at-work policies was a disgrace. Paramedics with work-related injuries increasingly found themselves facing bureaucratic hurdles in accessing benefits, he told the association's delegate meeting in Athlone.

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“Changes to the sick leave policy for ambulance personnel, where after 12 weeks paramedics are struck off and become reliant on the social welfare no matter how long their length of service, are an insult to the work and dedication shown by paramedics through the country every day.”

Mr Dixon called on the Government to “reverse” the universal social charge and income levy, saying paramedics had borne the brunt of austerity measures since 2009.

The association also wants the retirement age for paramedics reduced to 60 years in recognition of psychological and physical impact of the work they carry out.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.