Swann announces additional pay rise for NI health staff

The minister thanked staff for their ‘superhuman efforts’ in maintaining services across the Covid pandemic.

Jonathan McCambridge
Wednesday 19 January 2022 16:06
Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann (Peter Morrison/PA)
Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann (Peter Morrison/PA)

Health Minister Robin Swann is to provide £25 million from his department’s budget to fund a pay rise for Northern Ireland’s health workers.

The minister thanked staff for their “superhuman efforts” in maintaining services across the Covid pandemic, which has led to unprecedented pressures on hospitals.

Mr Swann made the announcement in a letter to health workers, seen by PA news agency.

It comes on top of a 3% pay rise which he announced last year.

Staff will receive between 0.5% and 1.5%, with the higher award going to lower paid workers.

It is understood trade unions have been informed of the latest pay award, which will be backdated until April of last year.

Hospitals in Northern Ireland have faced unprecedented pressures during the Covid pandemic (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Swann’s letter said: “These have been a truly unprecedented two years.

“We have faced challenges and pressures like never before and we have all had to make some incredibly difficult changes and to take deeply uncomfortable decisions.

“Last November, I announced I would be implementing the 3% 2021-22 pay award that had been recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body.

“Whilst it was obviously better than the 1% increase that was previously speculated, I also said if I could find funding to deliver a greater award I would do so.”

The letter continued: “Having spent the last number of weeks and months exploring what funding I could make available, and after engaging with trade union colleagues, I am very pleased to be able to announce a further in-year pay award for HSC staff.

“In total this additional pay award will represent a further investment of £25m into our healthcare workforce.

“It is utilising funding I have within my department and therefore it is being implemented without additional funding from Treasury for pay.”

The blunt truth is that our health service would not be standing at all, were it not for the superhuman efforts of staff

Robin Swann

Mr Swann added: “Although we are hopefully through the worst of the Omicron wave in terms of case numbers, I am acutely aware that pressures remain immense across our health service.

“So whilst the public narrative will likely soon shift towards the longed for lifting of restrictions, I am fully aware that the demands on hospital and community services are likely to remain intense for some weeks yet.

“Those pressures are being exacerbated further by the Covid-related sickness levels which reflect the levels of transmission across the community.

“The blunt truth is that our health service would not be standing at all, were it not for the superhuman efforts of staff.

“I sincerely hope you are never put in that position again.”

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