1% pay rise offer for NHS ‘a slap in the face’

Derry City & Strabane District Council unanimously endorsed all political parties working together to achieve the long term transformation of the NHS.

The motion brought by UUP Alderman Darren Guy who called on ‘politicians from all parties to focus on providing long term, sustainable funding that will help deliver much needed reforms to help reduce long term waiting lists and relieve the huge pressures on its staff’.

Alderman Guy said: “The pandemic has increased already unacceptable numbers of patients on waiting lists and to achieve a reduction in waiting times for diagnosis and treatments we will require a significant and recurring investment.

“Up until September 2020 more than 327,000 patients were waiting for their first outpatient appointment with a consultant – a rise of 7% on the previous year. I could go through all the statistics but it is more and more of not meeting targets.

MAY 2020: Local health and care staff show their appreciation for and clap for the support given to NHS frontline staff by the public. DER2020GS – 040

“There can be no doubting the severe pressure our health service is under. We have had a period of no government for three years, a year of dealing with a pandemic and since the New Deal New Approach was introduced, staffing levels are low through absenteeism, Covid isolation and pay issues not helped by a derogatory 1% pay rise offer – a  slap in the face for the pressures staff continue to work under.

“We must address the existing problems within our health service, it must be better resourced and better staffed to address the growing waiting lists.

“Healthcare should not be a green or orange issue. Our health care staff deserve to be rewarded for their stellar work. They don’t want to be treated like a political football, they want to get on with what they excel at.

“To improve our healthcare system, lower the waiting lists and improve working conditions for all healthcare staff, to achieve this the Health minister must be supported by all other members of the Executive and be given the finances to implement strategies and deal with the backlog.”

SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly said the ‘system was creaking at the seams prior to the pandemic and the pandemic had brought the flaws in the system into full glare’.

He added: “What the staff need is the financial support to recognise the work they have done not just during the pandemic. We do all want to see a health service that works for everybody and treats everybody in equal fashion, eliminates postcode lotteries across the system and delivers a world class health service.”

Aontú Councillor Emmet Doyle said: “There’s no doubt our healthcare staff have earned the title of heroes and heroines. I’m largely supportive of the efforts of Health Minister Swann although there are elements of the  handling of the pandemic we differ on.

“The Executive collectively needs to ensure all our front line staff have all the resources they need not just in hospitals but in our GPs and outpatient clinics, that comes from political choices and political will.”

Other parties offered their support before the motion was carried unanimously.

By Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter