Julian Smith to ask NI political parties for series of commitments during 'health summit' at Stormont
Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith will today ask the five main political parties here to make a series of commitments to the region's struggling health service.
Mr Smith will make the request at a "health summit" meeting at Stormont today as part of efforts to restore the devolved insitutions.
The PA news agency reports he will ask the five parties to:
- Commit to paying health workers the same as counterparts in the rest of the UK parity;
- Agree a three-year pay deal;
- Commit to safer staffing levels;
- Deliver 1,000 new nursing and midwifery undergraduate places over three years;
- Develop an action plan to tackle spiralling waiting times.
The move comes after thousands of nurses undertook strike action on Wednesday in protest over pay and staffing levels, which health unions claim are unsafe.
— Julian Smith MP (@JulianSmithUK) December 18, 2019
I’m deeply concerned by the health crisis in Northern Ireland & have met all party leaders together as part of #StormontTalks today. Parties must address the health crisis as an immediate priority.
Health bosses said there was widespread disruption to services as a result of strike action.
Around 5,000 medical appointments were cancelled as a result of the strike.
The NI Secretary has refused to budge from his position that health is a devolved matter. After round table talks with political parties on Wednesday he said again he was unable to intervene and approached the Treasury for additional funding.
Health unions accused Mr Smith of using the crisis as leverage to force the political parties back into talks to re-establish the Assembly.
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Belfast Telegraph Digital