Efforts of Healthcare Staff

Oral Answers to Questions — The Executive Office – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 16th November 2020.

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Photo of Pam Cameron Pam Cameron DUP 2:30 pm, 16th November 2020

T7. Mrs Cameron asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister for their assessment of the efforts of healthcare staff in the second wave of the pandemic, particularly in light of gifts being left at hospitals, the lack of clapping on Thursday evenings and the lack of hot food and drink being served to those workers, not least those in COVID wards and in ICUs. (AQT 667/17-22)

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

I thank the Member for her question. She has put her finger on the matter. I know that the Member has family in positions in ICU and will, therefore, be fully aware of the difficulties that our nursing staff face.

I say again that we absolutely support all those who put themselves in harm's way. We know how restrictive all this is not just when they are working but in their home lives, and we very much appreciate everything that they do.

Photo of Pam Cameron Pam Cameron DUP

I thank the First Minister for her answer. It is important that we demonstrate our support for the incredible work that healthcare workers are doing in these challenging times.

Does the First Minister believe that the Executive can find a balanced and proportionate way forward over the winter months in dealing with COVID-19?

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

I think that we have found a balanced and proportionate way forward. We need to continue to find that balanced and proportionate way forward. When we have the testing regime to a higher level of capacity where we can test staff in healthcare, social care and care home settings more frequently, that will help. It will also give them a sense of worth that we are concerned about their well-being and want to know what is happening in those settings. The testing regime is very much part of what we need to do. As I said in reply to an earlier question, it is important that we take the learnings from the Liverpool experience and use them in Northern Ireland so that we can be more focused on using testing as a mechanism to cut transmission of the virus.