Health Minister Robin Swann says there's 'financial commitment' and 'goodwill' towards Derry Medical School

Magee medical school comments.
Magee medical school comments.

Health Minister Robin Swann has said there is a 'financial commitment' and 'goodwill' in the new Stormont Executive towards the delivery of a Medical School at Magee.

He made the remarks in the Assembly.

Vice-chair of the Stormon Health Committee and Foyle MLA Gary Middleton asked the minister if he will "work with colleagues to ensure the Graduate Entry Medical School is delivered."

Mr. Swann replied that it was among a range of projects and programmes the Department of Health was looking at and that it was among its priorities.

He also said there was a "financial commitment" and "an intention of goodwill" among members of the new Executive towards the Derry medical school.

Meanwhile, the new Health Minister told MLAs that he proposed meeting nurses' pay demands and ending the ongoing campaign of industrial action by health workers by using £30m from future budgets to provide parity with England.

Mr. Swann said £109m was needed to meet the Agenda for Change pay demands.but he said there was a £30m shortfall in the current budget to deliver on this.

He therefore proposed using money from future budgets to fund the gaps.

SDLP health spokesman Mark H. Durkan said the minister's ability to "ensure pay parity and safe staffing was predicated on money" and he said he had understood that money would be made available by the Secretary of State Julian Smith to help end the strike.

"I wonder why we are going into next year's budget to address it," he said.

Mr. Durkan also raised the local health service's continued high dependence on expensive locum and agency staff which he said had been created by "disastrous decision-making in the past."

Mr. Swann acknowledged that "agency staff expenditure has tripled in the last five years" and that in Nursing and Midwifery it had quadrupled to £52.1m.

There was also a high reliance on agency staff within the Administration and Clerical grades.

The Health Minister said he wished to reduce this but said realistically there will "always be a need for some agency workers."