Discussions are under way to ensure that the families of health workers in Northern Ireland who die due to the coronavirus pandemic will receive a payment, Health Minister Robin Swann has said.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously announced a £60,000 payment for families of NHS and social care workers who have died after contracting Covid-19.
Almost 100 health workers in the UK have died, but none so far in Northern Ireland.
Mr Swann confirmed there will be a payment for families, and said it will include those not on the current pension roll.
“There will be something set aside and that’s something we’re actually looking at in Northern Ireland at this minute in time,” he told the BBC.
I want to make sure that, if that payment is needed, and I hope that we are working to a point that it is not needed, but it does recognise the contribution that those individuals have madeHealth Minister Robin Swann
“When we look at the model that has been adopted, that payment is only eligible for those who are in the current pension scheme.
“What I’m looking at is something that would also acknowledge – and hopefully we never get to the stage where we have to actually engage this payment – also some of those great people who have actually come out of retirement, those people who have volunteered within our system, our nursing students, medical students and other students who have stepped up the registration by a number of months, and those people who aren’t in the current pension scheme.
“What we’re looking at in the department of health is a scheme that we can recognise anyone who has stepped up and is working on the front line.
“£60,000 is the figure that has been looked at in England, it’s not the figure we have finalised yet here in Northern Ireland with the Executive … it is a conversation that is ongoing.
“But I want to make sure that, if that payment is needed, and I hope that we are working to a point that it is not needed, but it does recognise the contribution that those individuals have made.”