Health workers in NI to receive £500 recognition payment

UTV Credit: Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann has announced a special recognition payment of £500 for Northern Ireland's health workers.

Health workers in Northern Ireland are set to receive a "special recognition" payment for their working during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Health Minister Robin Swann announced the payment of £500 during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

It will be paid to all health and social care workers including doctors, nurses, care home workers, domiciliary care workers, administrative staff and estates teams.

However, it will be subject to approval from the Department of Finance.

Meanwhile Mr Swann also announced a flat rate, one-off special recognition payment of £2,000 for all qualifying students.

That payment will apply to students who have been on clinical placement between October 1 2020 to March 31 2021.

The qualifying courses are the nursing and midwifery, AHP, social work and physician associate pre-registration programmes commissioned from Queen's University Belfast and the Ulster University by Stormont's health department.

Mr Swann said that thanking the health workers for their work through the pandemic was not enough.

There are no words to properly convey what they have done for us - we will never be able to repay that debt.

Robin Swann, Health Minister

The minister added that he recognised the payment may pose challenges for some of the lower-paid workers, in terms of potentially having an adverse impact on their social security payments.

"So this afternoon I have written to the ministers of finance and communities asking them to urgently consider the issue and to engage with the tax and benefit authorities in GB to request that these payments are excluded from consideration in this regard," he said.

"And whilst the UK nations are still negotiating a new pay deal for NHS Agenda for Change staff this payment will have no bearing on that."

A one-off award is also set to be made to carers but Mr Swann said more work is to be done on this before further detail can be announced.

It comes as sixteen more coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in Northern Ireland.

According to the latest daily figures, there have also been 527 new positive cases, out of 2,285 individuals tested.