Mr Durkan said: “It is good to finally see investment coming to deal with the pressures facing our front line health service workers.
“However, it would be irresponsible to pretend that this small package will solve the staffing problems in our hospitals.
“The lack of workforce planning over the years and the very short-sighted decisions in the past have played a major part in bringing our health service to its knees.
“Currently nurses and doctors are worked to the bone. The stress and strain facing our health service workers is abominable. These are the people we are asking to save lives yet we are asking them to pay the human cost.
“There is also significant financial cost, with our health service shelling out tons of cash on agency and locum staff instead of delivering adequate staffing for our services at an affordable rate.
“Training more nurses and midwives is certainly a welcome move however, it is crucial that we focus on retaining our workers. Only if we move to deliver pay parity here in Northern Ireland will we hold onto our skilled workers.
“It’s not rocket science and it is a long term task – but to successfully tackle the challenges we face here we need to plan adequately now. A sticking plaster approach will not work; we need a much more ambitious future plan for our health service. To do that, we need politicians to step up.
“Once again the SDLP calls on the British and Irish Governments to get their act together and convene the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference to clear the decks so we can all get back to work.
“Our patients, workers and the very future of our health service cannot wait,” added the former Environment Minister.