New health minister must prioritise social care, urges UKHCA

Northern Ireland health minister

The new health minister for Northern Ireland must give social care “urgent attention”, the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) has urged.

Former Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann was appointed as health minister on Saturday, when the Northern Ireland Assembly sat for the first time since 2017.

The assembly reopened for business almost three years today after it and the power-sharing executive committee in the region collapsed.

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Welcoming the formation of a government in Northern Irleand, Colin Angel, UKHCA policy and campaigns director said: “The formation of a government in Northern Ireland is welcome. Ministers must ensure that the social care and health system receives urgent attention and long-delayed plans for reform are implemented.”

Swann announced yesterday that he has requested a meeting with trade unions in a bid to resolve ongoing industrial action involving thousands of nurses and health care workers over pay parity with the rest of the UK and ‘safe staffing’.  

Both issues were mentioned in the New Decade New Approach deal published on Thursday by the Secretary of State Julian Smith and Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

Meanwhile, the UK health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to bridge the technology gap between the NHS and social care with a £4.5m investment.

The funding, which came with a £40m plan to reduce NHS staff login times, will be given to local authorities to develop digital adult social care projects to support the most vulnerable in society to live independently for longer.

Caption: Permanent secretary Richard Pengelly welcomes Minister Swann to the Department of Health.

Tags : Colin Angelhealth ministerNorthern IrelandUKHCA
Sarah Clarke

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