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Families of HSE virus victims will get payouts

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Dr Syed Waqqar Ali died of Covid-19 earlier this week

Dr Syed Waqqar Ali died of Covid-19 earlier this week

PA

Dr Syed Waqqar Ali died of Covid-19 earlier this week

A compensation scheme is to be set up by the Government for the bereaved relatives of healthcare workers who have died from Covid-19.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the scheme will be drawn up in light of the eight deaths from the virus among healthcare staff.

The most recent death involved emergency department medic Dr Syed Waqqar Ali, who died this week after a three-month battle in intensive care.

He worked at the Mater, Beaumont and Tallaght hospitals as an agency doctor.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said work was under way on a compensation scheme for the families of frontline healthcare workers who have died due to Covid-19 that was contracted in the workplace.

"When the compensation scheme is developed and cleared by the minister it will be submitted to the Government for approval," she said.

"The various options available are currently being considered.

"However, due to the complexities and sensitivities involved it would not be appropriate to comment further, at this stage, in relation to the draft scheme."

The scheme, however, will be seen by health unions as not going far enough because it does not include healthcare workers who caught the virus and have recovered but continue to suffer after-effects.

This has impacted on their ability to work and reduced their ability to top up basic pay with premium and overtime payments which are essential to their income.

Earlier this week, Phil Ni Sheaghdha of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), said more than six in 10 nurses who have recovered from Covid-19 are still suffering post-viral fatigue.

The INMO said 545 nurses who had the virus responded to a survey and 91pc still have symptoms, including mental health difficulties, headaches and breathing problems.

Other symptoms include anxiety, trouble concentrating or "brain fog".

Overtime

The Special Committee on Covid-19 Response was told yesterday that the effect of the infection rates among healthcare staff must be examined in a much wider context than the effects placed on an individual infected worker.

The infection of more than 8,000 workers means that 7pc of the workforce was forced into workplace absence.

Healthcare workers may have failed to declare symptoms of coronavirus out of fear of losing additional overtime or premium payments, the committee was told.

In a submission, trade union Siptu said the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's decision not to permit employers to pay their staff as per their roster if they were put on Covid-19-related leave "resulted in significant financial disadvantage being incurred".