‘Nurses who treated NHS cancer patients deserve £500 bonus,’ says independent sector worker

A nurse who worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to treat ‘red flag’ cancer patients in the north west is calling on the Health Minister Robin Swann to extend the £500 NHS recognition payment to health workers in the independent sector.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 5:22 pm

Gus McFadden works at the North West Independent Hospital in Ballykelly which acted as a ‘clean hospital’ to ensure vital cancer surgeries could continue as the Western Trust directed most of its resources at coronavirus.

Mr. McFadden told the ‘Journal’ nurses across the sector believe they are deserving of the £500 payment for coming to the aid of the public health system at the height of the pandemic.

“They stopped us doing all our normal work and we went solely on to concentrate on the NHS ‘red flag’ cancer treatment, both surgery and diagnostics,” said Mr. McFadden.

“We didn’t deal with any of the COVID-19 patients directly because we were kept as a ‘clean hospital’ so that we could carry out all the urgent cancer services. None of the NHS hospitals were doing any routine surgeries. They were doing emergencies and trauma. All the cancer patients were being left behind and our hospital started doing them to work in tandem with the NHS and clear the waiting lists,” he added. Mr. McFadden said several of his colleagues believe they should receive parity with their peers employed directly in the public sector.

“We just want the same as everybody else. We worked the whole way through. We supported the NHS and we were exposing ourselves to COVID-19 as well by coming to work. A lot of the people in the NHS were furloughed, working from home and had no patient contact at all,” he stated.

The appeal is being supported by Dr Mukesh Chugh, Consultant Anaesthetist with the Western Trust, who was approached by some of the nurses affected.

“These people were there to look after those cancer patients. They should get the recognition payment I think. I considered that it wasn’t fair. They should have parity for the work they did.”