SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has said an increase in the mileage for health and social care staff will only go so far.
Mr McGrath said while any increase in the allowance paid to staff was welcome, it would not cover the huge costs staff are dealing with due to the spiralling cost of fuel.
He was speaking after Health Minister Robin Swann announced an increase to the rate paid for mileage incurred above 3,500 miles to 30p per mile for an initial six month period.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“It’s welcome that the Health Minister has listened to the pleas of health and social care staff and taken steps to address this issue. We have repeatedly highlighted how the rising cost of fuel was having a huge impact on our health staff, especially those in roles like community carers who travel widely as part of their work and provide an invaluable service that we would be lost without.
“This rise in mileage can only be a first step in tackling this issue. While I appreciate the challenges facing our health service, this 10p increase will not cover the rising fuel prices that staff are being forced to pay on a daily basis. We are still in a situation where staff are going to be expected to make up huge petrol costs from their wages, leaving them significantly out of pocket and taking home less every month, while the cost of living crisis continues to worsen.
“Every aspect of our health service is badly in need of reform, but part of that needs to include ensuring that staff are paid fairly for the work that they do. We rely on our health and social care staff to look after us and keep people safe, but we can’t expect them to carry out this difficult job then return to a cold home where they can’t afford to eat properly or put petrol in their cars.”