Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has given a guarded welcome to news one-off recognition payments will be given to health workers next month.
But the South Belfast MLA said any further delays to a comprehensive set of recognition payments and pay awards would prove a false economy, leaving many simply unable to afford to work in healthcare come the winter.
Ms Bradshaw was speaking after the Department of Health said the one-off payment would be made in August, separate to the pay award. An independent body has also recommended health service staff should receive a pay increase for the forthcoming financial year.
"The recognition payment should in fact have been paid long ago, but it is welcome it should be in most people's accounts before the ongoing pressure of sharply rising energy prices becomes an even more important issue in early autumn,” she said.
"However, the cost of living crisis should refocus minds on ensuring a way is found urgently to ensure recognition payments also reach carers, and the agreed pay award is implemented, not least for the lowest paid workers.
"The penalty for delay in this area will be people left simply unable to afford to do their job as energy prices have both a direct and indirect impact on household budgets. Those who continue to delay the operation of the Assembly need to front up and explain to the health workers and carers they once applauded why they are risking their very livelihoods."