Some 66,000 healthcare workers are still waiting on their recognition payment for their work during the pandemic, ten months after it was announced.
About 190,000 people were due the full €1,000 payment or a portion of it, with 124,000 of these receiving it so far.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly told the Oireachtas committee on health said that as many staff as possible will be paid before Christmas.
He said that nursing homes and section 39 organisations – which provide care services in the community – have been returning self-assessment forms on staff who should get the payment.
He said that once the self-assessment are received the Health Service Executive is “turning them around very quickly” .
Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said 66,000 people are still waiting adding: “It’s a very large number”. She said: people are “really disappointed” and criticised the “long delay” given that the payments were announced in January.
The issue arose during a meeting where the health committee was asked to sign off on almost €1.4 billion in extra funding for the Department of Health this year. Some €189 million of this relates to the Covid-19 recognition payment.
Mr Donnelly said that the need for the extra funding arose due to the Omicron wave of Covid-19 and due to Government decisions that took place after last year’s budget like changes to public sector pay.
Members of the committee expressed anger that they had only received documents on the funding sought shortly before the meetingm and a number of TDs looked for more detailed information.
The committee did not sign off on the funding at Wednesday’s meeting, and Mr Donnelly agreed to send members more information ahead of another meeting that is likely to take place next week.