02/12/2020

Executive Urged To Make One-Off 'Gratitude' Payment To Healthcare Workers

The Northern Ireland Executive has been urged to follow the lead of the Scottish government and provide a one off payment to their health and care sector staff of £500.

Making the call, SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath said: "We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our health and care workers. When we were able to stay safe at home during the pandemic, they stepped up and put themselves into harm's way to look after all of us.

"Many left their families and loved ones to work long hours, under huge pressure. In our hospitals, many of these health workers came. Some had to leave home and take up offers of hotel accommodation to stop the spread of the virus.
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"Our health and care staff witnessed harrowing scenes as they cared for patients in their last hours, demonstrating compassion at every turn.

"Many health workers have told me that while they appreciate the support from the public and gestures such as Clap for Carers, what they really need is fair pay and conditions. The SDLP will continue to press for a fair pay deal for health workers.

"While this £500 payment will not tackle serious pay concerns, it will provide some short term support for our health workers. This payment should be made tax free, with cost implications met by the British Government.

"This pandemic has highlighted the value we place on our health sector but unfortunately the funding from Government doesn't match this value and that must change.

"I have written to the Joint First Ministers, the Finance and Health Ministers and urged them to consider implementing such a scheme urgently."

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