Swann welcomes confirmation of health pay awards

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Swann welcomes confirmation of health pay awards

The Former Ulster Unionist Minister of Health Robin Swann has welcomed the decision from the Department of Health to implement the independent pay review body’s recommendations for health staff.

Robin Swann said:

“This is very welcome but belated confirmation that our health workers in Northern Ireland will receive the same rate of pay as their counterparts in England and Wales. Earlier this year when the recommendations were announced, I made it clear that I accepted the increases and stated I wished to see them implemented as quickly as they could legally be delivered.

“Restoring pay parity was the very first decision I took as Minister in early January 2020 and it’s been shameful that due to lack of a functioning Executive, a gap in pay had  developed once again over recent months.

“Whilst I fully appreciate that the national pay recommendations of at least an extra £1,400 per year or a 4.5% increase still falls short of what many HSC staff are seeking in the midst of the current cost of living crisis, it’s an outrage that they had to wait so long into the year for even the basic increase to be implemented.

“I wrote to the Secretary of State over a month ago urging him to intervene and so I very much welcome the recent clarity on public sector pay policy which has now legally allowed this decision to be taken.

“I am concerned however that given the ongoing budgetary uncertainty at Stormont and the fact that the budget for 2022/23 has only just been agreed four months from the end of the year, that the funding for this essential pay award may come at the expense of investing critical resources at the continued efforts underway to tackle waiting times. I really hope it isn’t an either-or situation, but if necessary, the Department of Health locally must be provided with the additional funds. Patients and key service improvements in areas such as cancer & mental health mustn’t be allowed to fall victim to the damaging political and budgetary delays outside of their control.

Robin Swann concluded: “Given we are now only a couple of weeks away from Christmas it’s my sincere hope that the increases in pay, backdated to April 2022, can be included in the December pay of our health workers.”