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DUP South Antrim MLA and Vice-Chair of the Assembly’s Health Committee Pam Cameron has welcomed the announcement of grant schemes to support cancer and mental health charities and create a Carers Support Fund.

Reacting to the news, which will see a total investment of £24m, Mrs Cameron said:

‘‘I welcome this announcement and look forward to money reaching those in greatest need as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The reality is that for many local charities working with patients and families affected by cancer and mental illness, this funding represents much more than a recognition of their efforts during Covid-19. It will provide a vital lifeline for continuing that critical work during the recovery.

The pandemic has had a deep and personal impact on those diagnosed with cancer and whilst the overriding priority must be scaling up diagnostics, treatment and surgery, this investment in areas like psychological support and palliative care will help countless families living the reality of this terrible illness each and every day.

I am also delighted that unpaid carers are finally getting long overdue recognition as part of this funding package. Many of these individuals have made huge personal and financial challenges to keep those they care for safe from harm. It is absolutely fitting that practical support is made available to support them and their families in these uncertain times.’’

The Health Minister also confirmed on Monday that £15m will also be allocated to Health and Social Care Trusts to support staff in the coming weeks.

Upper Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley added:

‘‘As a society we owe a great debt of gratitude to our health and care workers who have worked around the clock to lead the fight against Covid-19 over the past twelve months. This cash injection in workplace facilities and training will go some distance to improving quality of work and providing greater opportunities to staff. Whilst short-term action is welcome, it should not deter the Department from tackling wider challenges facing our health service, including workforce planning and absence of safe staffing.’’