Video: John Dallat praises staff at Altnagelvin for 'extraordinary medical attention' during recent illness

East Derry MLA John Dallat has praised staff at Altnagelvin for the 'extraordinary medical attention' administered to him in the Derry hospital over recent times.

The SDLP MLA made the comments while welcoming the move by the Health Minister Robin Swann to provide nurses and health workers from the North with pay parity with their counterparts in Britain.

John Dallat.

John Dallat.

"I add my best wishes and support as someone who has, in recent times, been receiving extraordinary medical attention in Altnagelvin Hospital from outstanding doctors and nurses," said Mr. Dallat.

"Will the Minister take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that never again will staff feel so demoralised that they feel the need to join picket lines and that, instead, they are allowed to concentrate on their vocations, which, of course, is in the interests of not just the National Health Service but all of us who have had the experience of benefiting from it?" he asked.

Mr Swann replied: "I thank the Member for his question. May I just say how good it is to see you here today? You are looking well.

"I appreciate the fact that you are here, because I know that, when there is a tough question to be asked of the Health Department, you are able to do it."

The Health Minister earlier confirmed £109m had been found to meet the pay demands of striking nurses and health workers.

Some of this, however, £30m in total, will be drawn from future year budget allocations.

"Applying England's pay values to current pay scales in Northern Ireland, with effect from April 1, 2019, will create pay parity with England.

"That is estimated to cost £109 million. The Department has, through a combination of in-year easements and successful bids for additional funding, been able to assemble £79 million, £50 million of which is non-recurrent funding, to increase pay for this staff grouping for 2019-2020.

"Therefore, an additional £30 million is required to meet the costs of Agenda for Change pay parity with England in 2019-2020. A move to pay parity will, of course, also have implications for our budget in future years," he told MLAs.

He explained: "I should clarify that the funding of the £30 million cost to move to parity in the current year is to be financed by drawing forward proposed allocations for future years.

"So, while I am glad that it is not impacting on the funds available for other services this year, it is important to note that it has not been financed by an additional allocation to Northern Ireland."