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Bradshaw welcomes pay parity but urges swift legislative action on workforce strategy

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed a commitment by the new Health Minister to restore pay parity for health workers but urged the introduction of safe staffing legislation alongside a workforce strategy to ensure safe staffing and end industrial action.

The South Belfast MLA was speaking after Robin Swann told the Assembly pay parity could be restored with £30 million over two years, giving them the same wages as colleagues in England.

“I welcome the swift action by the Minister and the Executive to find the funds to restore pay parity. It should be further emphasised, however, this was always a false economy. This will be £30 million well spent, in that it will undoubtedly save money in the longer term by assisting the retention of valued staff in the health sector,” said Ms Bradshaw.

“The Minister is also correct that safe staffing is a key aspect of the dispute and the situation cannot be resolved overnight. I would urge swift action on agreeing the way forward on a workforce strategy which ensures we have not just the right conditions but also the right skills mix for a transformed health and social care Service.

“However, the best way to provide the assurance the Royal College of Nursing and others are asking for is to provide safe staffing legislation, as in Scotland and Wales.

“I hope we will see swift resolution over the coming hours and days to end the industrial dispute so we can focus on the transformation of the service with the assurance staff will be both valued and safe at work, but I believe in the medium term we will need to act legislatively to make sure we do not reach this point again.”