Healthcare news

Health and social care staff to get £500 payment of special recognition

Health Minister Robin Swann
Maeve Connolly

Health and social care workers are to receive a one-off £500 payment in recognition of their work during the coronavirus pandemic, Health Minister Robin Swann has announced.

The payments are subject to approval by the Department of Finance and the health minister said he has also asked the ministers of finance and communities to engage with the tax and benefit authorities to ensure lower paid workers who receive social security payments are not penalised.

The one-of payment will be awarded to doctors, nurses, care home wokers, domiciliary care workers including those working in the independent sector, admin staff and estates teams. It is similar to a scheme in Scotland that was announced recently.

Robin Swann said there were "no words to properly convey" the work and heroism of healthcare staff, adding "we will never be able to repay that debt".

They "deserve more than our thanks and well wishes", the minister said.

The health minister said there was "no neat, dividing line" between frontline and non-frontline health staff.

"As health minister I value each and every personal contribution equally because it keeps our health service running.

"Try running a hospital without cleaners, porters, cooks, IT speciailsts, managers, PPE supply staff, payroll staff, drivers, administrators booking in appointments. They are all hugely important and integral to the overall work of our health and social care system."

A special recognition payment of £2,000 will also be awarded to all non-salaried qualifying students who have been on clinical placement between October 1 2020 and March 31 2021.

The qualifying courses include nursing and midwifery, social work and physician associate pre-registration programmes commissioned from Queen's University Belfast and the Ulster University.

A one-off award is also set to be made to carers but the minister said more work needed to be done before further detail could be announced.

Read more: I'd rather see people vaccinated than doses wasted, says Arlene Foster

It comes as the department reported 16 further deaths and 527 new cases of coronavirus. Read more

To date 191,050 vaccines have been administered, of which 168,140 were first doses and 22,910 were second doses, the department confirmed this afternoon. An additional consignment of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the north yesterday with more expected next week.

Yesterday the department announced that everyone aged 65 and over would be offered the vaccine by the end of February. GPs are finishing vaccinating the 80 and over age group with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and are moving on to those aged 70-79 while people aged 65 to 69 will be able to book an appointment at one of the seven vaccination centres across the north to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Information on the booking system and a telephone helpline will be available later this week. Read more

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