Swabbers from the Covid testing site at the Grandstand have told Gef they faced abuse and were provided with no heating during the winter.

This comes as Manx Care announces the swabbing site will be moved from the Grandstand to Kensington Road later this month.

Testing will move to the Crookall Centre, Kensington Road, Douglas, the old Finch Hill GP surgery. Testing/swabbing will commence in this location from Monday, March 21.

Abuse and Low Morale

Before today’s announcement, the staff who contacted Gef told us they didn’t know what was going on regarding PCR tests after the end of this month.

They said: ‘We are seeing a rise in numbers but we also do many tests each day for those going to UK hospitals. We are being asked by these patients where they go in April for the PCR so they can go for treatment but we have no idea. No one is telling us. We don’t even know if we will have a job after March 31. Manx care has given zero information to us.

‘The staff morale is at an all-time low as we have been forgotten yet again. We also found out that 111 operators are on over £17 an hour, where we are on £10.19. We have endured the cold, wet, wind rain snow. Abuse, people threading to run us over, spitting on us we have been in contact with almost every positive case on our island, and so much more, yet we receive the lowest pay in Manx care. The team is upset and angry and just want answers.

‘We have used water bottles filled with hot water to keep our hands warm because we need to be bare below the elbow, and using alcohol gel after each person, we start to get numb fingers. It’s been horrible. Some people are really nice and we really appreciate them. But the abuse we have had and the conditions we worked in, add that to £10.19 an hour when phone operators in warm safe and comfy settings are on £17+ per hour, our morale is gone.’

Gef contacted Manx Care for a response and a spokesperson said: ‘Manx Care’s HR team are liaising with staff as some roles change with the island adapting to Living with Covid-19 moving to an Endemic Approach. The efforts made by the team at the testing centre, along with all colleagues, involved in dealing with the pandemic, have been phenomenal.’

We are not able to verify claims around levels of pay for any staff.