SDLP Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly has welcomed progress on the Covid-19 recognition payment to independent health care staff.
Speaking in the Assembly this week Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed over £1m had been paid out so far.
However, Mrs Kelly said there were still thousands of staff waiting to receive their payment and called on the Health Minister to do everything in his power to ensure they receive it before Christmas.
Upper Bann MLA Mrs Kelly said:
“While its welcome that our hardworking independent health staff care are starting to receive their payments I still have significant concerns about how long this process is taking and the way it has been administered. The SDLP has written to the Public Accounts Committee asking them to establish what records are kept by independent health care companies on their staff and to ensure the process is not open to abuse.
“The Health Minister has confirmed that 247 claims have been submitted and 129 are progressing through the system, but that means thousands of our health care staff are still waiting for payment and Christmas is fast approaching. It’s disappointing that the Health Minister was unable to confirm all staff would receive the payment before the festive season and I’d urge employers to get applications in on behalf of staff as soon as possible. There must also be a process for people to access the payment if their employer will not apply on their behalf.
“Our health staff, both NHS and independent sector have been through a horrendous period since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, their job is very difficult at the best of times and they do selfless work in order to keep people safe and healthy. We need to see all these payments issued as soon as possible and fairness and equality across all our healthcare staff.”