MLAs call for clarity around bonus payment for carers

COVID-19 Health Paula Bradshaw Kellie Armstrong Finance

Alliance MLAs have called for further clarity for a one-off bonus payment to carers in recognition of their work throughout the pandemic.

Earlier this year, Health Minister Robin Swann announced health workers would receive a special payment as a mark of thanks for work carried out during the COVID-19 crisis. The Minister stated at the same time a one-off bonus was also set to be paid to carers but more work needed done before the details could be announced.

Alliance MLAs Kellie Armstrong and Paula Bradshaw said it was past time the Minister announced details of the scheme.

“While many people are looking forward to Easter and taking a break from work or education, carers will continue looking after their loved ones without breaks, without respite and without a carers’ payment,” said Ms Armstrong.

“Their work has been quietly continuing throughout this pandemic, leading to stress and pressures not only on the overall system, but on individuals, with many facing burnout but with little option but to continue. The Departments of Health and Communities need to show joined-up thinking and give some clarity on this payment, which would be a serious boost for the thousands of carers across Northern Ireland.”

“I have been raising this issue persistently with the Minister and at Health Committee and have been assured it was in process,” added Ms Bradshaw.

“Yet here we are, a year after respite and other carer support services have been withdrawn, and carers have not received this payment. Carers continue to work hard, helping reduce the pressures in our health service, and we are all grateful for that.

“The one-off payment was supposed to be a small acknowledgment for all that. The Health Minister must provide an urgent update to confirm when it will be released to them.”