South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw and East Antrim MLA Danny Donnelly said they shared the discontent of health and social care workers currently on strike over pay and conditions.
“The word they use to me is devalued – they feel devalued by authorities, and not least by a political system, which does not respond to the obvious need for improved pay and conditions in the interests not just of the staff themselves but also of patient safety,” said Ms Bradshaw.
“It is simply not reasonable to ask workers to continue tolerating markedly lower pay and markedly poorer conditions than their colleagues elsewhere in the UK and Ireland, not least since the option of moving to another jurisdiction or to a different sector is so obviously open to them. It is long past time we all showed how much value we place on those working in our health service by prioritising them and the patients they care for.
“If parties are not willing to restore the Executive even in this obvious healthcare emergency with the winter months still ahead of us, it is time for the UK Government to step in and reform the system so those who do not wish to govern can go into opposition rather than stall the whole thing.”
“This is not just a matter of improved pay and conditions for a particular sector, essential though they are,” added Mr Donnelly.
“It is also a matter of patient safety – we must have health staff who are properly valued, properly rested and properly compensated. Without them, we will struggle to retain and recruit and we will struggle to provide the standards of care patients need and deserve.
“The first thing we expect an incoming Health Minister to do is to introduce safe staffing legislation, providing a statutory guarantee of improved and reasonable pay and conditions, so workers here are not disadvantaged versus colleagues elsewhere.”