The inclusion of GP registrars in the list of eligible healthcare workers to receive the pandemic special recognition payment remains under consideration, according to the Department of Health.
In January 2022, the Government directed the Department to provide financial recognition to eligible frontline healthcare workers based on “additional risks they faced in the performance of their normal duty during the pandemic”, outlined a HSE circular in April.
The full value of the payment is €1,000 free of all taxes. Eligible employees must have been employed between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2021 and worked in Covid-19 exposed healthcare environments. For part-time employees, the payment is pro-rated.
HSE organisations and section 38 services are currently actioning payment to eligible employees and “this is receiving priority attention across services”, according to a spokesperson for the Department.
They added: “A key criterion in assessing eligibility is whether an employee was working ordinarily on-site in a Covid-exposed clinical environment.”
Former IMO President and Dublin GP, Dr Ray Walley, told the Medical Independent there should not be any discrimination against GP registrars. “All the GP registrars were either working in… frontline healthcare situations, be it in a hospital setting, a GP setting, [or] a Covid hub setting.”
According to Dr Walley, GP registrars worked alongside their trainers during the most uncertain and dangerous times of the pandemic. It is estimated that less than 1,000 GP registrars worked on the frontline during the pandemic.
Dr Walley said the lack of recognition left a “bad taste, which will mitigate against us retaining our junior doctors going forward”.
GPs were also excluded from the list of frontline workers eligible for the special payment.