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Health minister must act on HSC workers’ pay and victims of contaminated blood scandal – Gildernew

18 June, 2020 - by Colm Gildernew

Sinn Féin's MLA Colm Gildernew MLA has pressed Department of Health (DoH) officials on the failure to release funding allocated by the Department of Finance (DoF) to ensure victims of the NHS contaminated blood scandal receive parity with those in Britain. 

Thanks The Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA also raised the failure of the department to return the wages that it deducted from HSC workers as a result of their strike for fair pay this year.

Speaking after the today’s meeting of the Health Committee Colm Gildernew said:

"Earlier this year, the Minister of Finance Conor Murphy released £1.6m  in funding to reimburse healthcare staff for lost salary due to strike action. Today, we learned that the Department of Health has inexplicably failed to distribute the funds.

"I agree with the Finance Minister who has called for the money to be released as a matter of urgency, with the workers being reimbursed in their July pay packets. It is the least we can do for a sector that has served us all so well, particularly in the last few months of the COVID crisis.

"The failure of DoH to release the funding allocated by DoF appears to be a pattern within DoH.  

"In early February my Sinn Féin colleague Conor Murphy ring fenced £1m to end a glaring inequality by alleviating the hardship of those affected by the NHS contaminated blood scandal. This funding has still not been distributed to the victims. 

"Furthermore, in early April, in response to the COVID - 19 crisis,  the Minister for Finance allocated £12m for the key worker childcare scheme. Yesterday, we discovered that only £ 600,000 – approximately 5% – of the sum allocated has been distributed to the much beleaguered childcare sector. 

"The inaction of the Minister of Health is causing additional suffering and hardship to workers, victims and the wider community-in the midst of what is already a crisis. 

"The money has been provided to the Dept of Health by the Finance Minister and has been sitting in DoH for some time now.

"If the minister is genuine about valuing our workers and caring for the victims of the NHS contaminated blood he must resolve this urgently." 

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