Councillors raise concerns about unvaccinated Derry health staff

Concerns have been raised by several Derry councillors about the number of health service staff who remain unvaccinated.

Alderman Darren Guy
Alderman Darren Guy

DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney raised the issue following a presentation by Teresa Molloy, Western Trust Director of Performance & Service Improvement and Dr Bob Brown Director of Primary Care and Older People’s Services/Executive Director of Nursing to the Health and Community Committee.

Alderman Devenney put on record his support for everyone who had the vaccine adding: “We are going into very difficult times as we head into the winter. However, listening to the media there are concerns that 20 to 25% of health service staff have not had the vaccine yet.”

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Dr Brown assured the councillor ‘we will all continue to promote the vaccine whether that's the first jab or booster because it is fundamental to the resilience of the health and care services going forward’.

Director of Performance & Service Improvement, Ms Molloy added: “There is no difficulty with our staff getting the booster vaccine. We have been running clinics from hubs and through mobile arrangements since the end of September. Staff are coming and getting their booster vaccine or their first or second dose - whatever is needed.”

UUP Alderman Darren Guy was concerned that some unvaccinated NHS staff were getting paid leave if they tested positive.

“Some staff have been double jabbed and if they come into close contact with someone, they are straight back to work after they have a negative test,” he said. “However, staff who aren't jabbed get their 10 days paid leave.

“I know it's controversial at the moment whether staff should be double jabbed. I’m double jabbed and I’ve had my booster and flu jab. If it was my business I would not be paying staff for 10 days leave while other staff are exhausted and having to work on.

“It doesn't do anything for staff morale and it's a decision that has to be made. If people aren't going to be happy then so be it.”

Responding to the Waterside councillor, Ms Molloy added: “We are not the same in health and social care as those working outside of it. We have a process whereby anyone who is a close contact does have to self isolate for 10 days unless they have had a PCR test on days 2 and 8 but they also have to be risk assessed for return even if they are negative.

“So there is an additional obligation on us and our staff when a member is or is not vaccinated. So we pass a higher test in comparison to those working outside of health and social care.”