Concern around salary payments to health service staff dominated today’s questions to the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Edwin Poots. In the past year all Health and Social Care trusts have introduced a new payment system and while the majority of basic salary payments have been made without problem, there has been an issue in paying allowances and overtime to some staff. At the beginning of the new tax year some staff have also had additional national insurance contributions deducted from their pay in error. Mr Poots is “extremely concerned and disappointed at the difficulties that some staff are experiencing in receiving the correct pay” and fully expects departmental officials, trusts and Business Services Management to work together to ensure that all payment issues are resolved. There is also a plan in place to resolve the issue of incorrect national insurance contributions with the aim of including it in the next monthly pay.
Phil Girvan asked the Minister about the possibility of health professionals, other than doctors, being able to prescribe medication for patients. Mr Poots confirmed that his “Department has supported and taken forward the necessary legislation to enable that to happen, in line with the rest of the UK”, describing it as “an important part of my Department’s commitment to modernise health and social care”. This should make it easier for patients to get access to the medication they need and, “by using a range of prescribers, we can improve that patient care without compromising patient safety”.
The Minister also answered questions on car parking at the Ulster Hospital, addiction services and the North West innovation corridor. During topical questions Mr Poots continued to answer Members’ queries on social services support for victims of racist attacks, malnutrition in hospitals, waiting times for GP appointments and staff morale in the health service.