Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (533, 534)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

533. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education if she will review the maternity arrangements for teachers and school staff who are 28 or more weeks pregnant taking into account the joint occupational health advice (details supplied) for employers from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, which highlights women who are 28 weeks pregnant and beyond as at increased risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38887/20]

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Catherine Connolly

Question:

534. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education if she will review the Medmark process for teachers and school staff who are 28 or more weeks pregnant, given that this cohort is considered by organisations (details supplied) to be at increased risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38888/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 533 and 534 together.

My Department has an enhanced Occupational Health Service (OHS) in place to provide employers with occupational health advice in relation to employees’ fitness for work. Medmark, the current OHS provider has a process in place for school staff with health concerns about their risk of serious illness from contracting COVID-19, through workplace attendance.

A detailed on-line questionnaire is submitted by the employee to Medmark, along with detailed medical evidence to provide clarity with respect to the medical complaint(s) in question. All of this information is reviewed by the OHS specialist occupational health physician, including the combined and cumulative risk that can arise when an employee suffers from more than one health condition. The risk categorisation is comprehensive and follows the same process that is being applied across other sectors. An employee is categorised into one of three COVID-19 risk categories. These are general population risk, higher risk, and very high risk. The outcome of the risk categorisation is governed by the HSE guidance.

Under the current HSE guidelines, a pregnant employee is not deemed to be at very high risk of serious illness from contracting COVID-19, unless suffering from a serious heart condition.

If this, or any other relevant medical matter, is reviewed and updated by the HSE, Medmark will be informed as the occupational health service provider, by the HSE, and will adjust their decisions accordingly.

Where an employee considers the OHS ‘COVID-19 Health Risk Categorisation Report’ places him/her in an incorrect risk category, a review can be requested by the employee where Medmark will re-evaluate the medical evidence provided. The employee may provide additional medical evidence as part of the review process.