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Stormont Executive to 'fully review' health service staff pay

Pat Cullen

Health Minister Robin Swann is to bring proposals to the Executive on staff pay.

Ministers will "fully review" the payments to make sure there are no negative impacts on any future health budget.

On Thursday, Pat Cullen from the Royal College of Nursing warned the health service was months away from crisis and that strike action could resume within days.

A key concern was staff not being reimbursed for pay they lost while striking earlier this year, despite £1.64m being given to the Department of Health in May.

A department spokesperson said: "The minister will be tabling a paper shortly that requests the Executive to fully review the implications of the proposal before payments are made."

They added: "There is a need for absolute certainty that there will be no negative impact - now or in the future - for the health and social care budget if these payments are made."

Ms Cullen also warned of a potential exodus of nurses in September, with many unable to meet the extra cost of childcare when schools return on a phased basis, and said there could be no further delay in introducing safe staffing legislation.

Patricia McKeown from the Unison trade union said that securing safe staffing and proper pay levels were still a long way off.

"Those are our priorities. We gave very clear evidence to the health committee a week ago, about how staff have played an incredible role in the response to the Covid crisis in the risks they took in order to protect the safety of patients, residents and clients," she said.

"In the acute sector but also in the social care sector, we've made our position very clear to the minister and the department that we expect direct engagement with trade union staff in any future developments and reorganisation of the health service."

Belfast Telegraph