THE SDLP’s Mark H Durkan has called on Finance Minister Conor Murphy to introduce a one-off ‘thank you’ payment for NHS health and social care staff on the frontline of the pandemic.
The request follows the announcement of a similar scheme as part of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 support package.
NHS staff in Scotland are to receive a one-off payment of £500.
Said the Foyle MLA: “Our health workers deserve real, tangible and meaningful recognition of their sacrifice throughout this pandemic.
“All the doorstep claps, platitudes and expressions of solidarity do not equate to putting food on the table.
“Many of our health and social care staff have worked themselves to the bone on a daily basis, sacrificing time with their families in order to protect the public.
“Yet their pay does not adequately reflect the invaluable nature of their service.
“Ine financial terms this workforce is among the most undervalued across these islands.
“A thank you payment for all NHS staff inclusive of nurses, care home workers, porters and cleaners, is not just the right thing to do but a necessary token of appreciation.
“Their contribution cannot be defined or limited to their job role – these staff have been care givers, life savers, light bearers in the darkest of times.
They have provided comfort to patients in their dying moments and been a support to many a grieving family.
“We have heard the word superheroes thrown around whenever we speak of our pandemic workforce.
“And while I whole-heartedly agree that our health and social care workers are heroes, we often forget the individual behind the mask.
“The person with a life, a family who is bearing the full brunt of the physical, emotional and financial consequences of Covid-19.
“The Finance Minister alongside his Executive colleagues must put their money where their mouth is and implement this well-earned payment.
“We can never repay the health and social care sector for their service throughout this crisis and I acknowledge there is a way to go as far as providing NHS staff with the pay increase they deserve is concerned.
“But this small token would be a step in the right direction,” added Mr Durkan.