Unvaccinated paramedics to be removed from frontline duties

Around 35 affected staff expected to face financial losses due to HSE decision

Paramedics who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 are to be removed from frontline duties involving direct contact with patients.

The HSE has written to an estimated 35 unvaccinated members of the National Ambulance Service (NAS) to inform them of the policy, which has been adopted after health service management conducted a risk assessment.

It concluded that paramedics are “category A healthcare workers” and as such “vaccination requirements apply”.

The HSE said 98.3 per cent of the 2,000 or so NAS staff were fully vaccinated, meaning the total number of individuals affected is about 35.

They have been informed that they will only be rostered from Monday to Friday and that their working hours will not incur shift pay or premium payments.

A source close to the matter said the move would have significant financial implications for those affected.

“It’s late in the day for them to decide to do this but clearly the HSE has decided that they want to put a shot across the bows of those that are unvaccinated for any reason, and they are going to be taken off frontline duties,” they said.

“There is absolutely no doubt they are going to be out of pocket.”

The HSE said it welcomed the very high take-up of vaccination by healthcare staff and there was a policy in place to “address situations where staff in critical roles are unvaccinated”, though this was a small number.

It said that participation in vaccination programmes is not mandatory, but that “should a person change their mind, vaccination can be made available to them”.

“It is the case that staff being unable to attend work as a result of Covid-19 is one of a number of factors driving the pressures being experienced by the National Ambulance Service,” it added.