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Minister Swann on Budget announcement

Commenting on today’s budget announcement, Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the £52 million for Agenda for Change pay.

He said: “This will enable pay parity with England to continue in 2021/22 and honours the previous commitment made by the Executive in January 2020. Likewise the announcement that £20 million for Safe Staffing will now be funded from the Barnett consequentials is a positive move.

“Safe staffing was a key factor in resolving the industrial dispute in January 2020 and my Department will continue to develop its financial planning on the basis that this £20 million requirement will now be received.

“It has to be recognised, however, that while the additional resource allocations included in the Budget are to be welcomed, the non-recurrent nature of this funding means I will still be faced with some difficult decisions.

“The present funding model which Health and indeed all Departments operate within is suboptimal to say the least. What is really needed is a multi-year budget and unfortunately the Executive hasn’t received this from Westminster.

One off COVID funding cannot be effectively deployed in rebuilding services as this requires us to make multiyear commitments to training places, and to appoint people to permanent posts in order to attract and retain staff.

“We require major investment on a sustained basis to rebuild our struggling services and reduce waiting times. In particular, increasing the capacity of our elective care system, whether in house or in the independent sector, requires a recurrent funding commitment to enable us to invest in the staff and infrastructure required to start to make progress.”

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