Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle calls for sick pay increase, and for clinics and other health supports that address long Covid

Pringle calls for sick pay increase, and for clinics and other health supports that address long Covid

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, has called for the rate of sick pay to be increased as he supported a motion calling for clinics and other health supports that address long Covid.

Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “The issue of long Covid is a very serious one and I fully support this motion’s calls to fully staff long and post Covid clinics, to establish a multidisciplinary public health team to review and manage long Covid care within the population, and to develop a rehabilitative and recovery programme that is designed to meet the needs of those experiencing long Covid.”

The deputy spoke on a Regional Independents motion re long Covid health services.

Deputy Pringle said: “The effects of long Covid are extremely concerning. There are many people in my constituency of Donegal experiencing long Covid and the effects are devastating.

“The health supports that are needed are not widely available and many of my constituents are suffering chronic ill health without access to essential medical care.

“It is a very serious issue but it appears that the government and HSE would prefer to turn a blind eye to it,” he said. The deputy said he heard from an 11-year-old girl who has ME, and after getting long Covid is now struggling to attend even three days at school.

The deputy said: “And the symptoms are not the only issue sufferers are having to endure. Because long Covid is seen as an ‘ordinary illness’ now, sufferers are now only getting a reduced rate of pay.” He said he was also contacted by a member of An Garda Síochána who has a young family of six children.

Deputy Pringle said: “They are now only receiving half of their pay due to being absent with long Covid and are considering resigning. This is completely unacceptable, especially given the current cost-of-living crisis.

“I believe the rate of sick pay, in general, needs addressing. We cannot punish people for being sick.

“Dealing with illness is extremely stressful and can have a detrimental effect on mental health and family finances. We should not be adding to people’s stress during a difficult time. People cannot afford to take a pay cut when sick. If anything, they need further financial support to help with medical costs,” he said.

The deputy said: “In conclusion, I support this motion. We need to start taking long Covid seriously. However, I would go further, that the rate of sick pay should be greatly increased for all those who require it as well.”