DUP South Antrim MLA and Vice-Chair of the Assembly’s Health Committee Pam Cameron has urged the Health Minister to revisit and rethink support provided to dental care professionals in light of their contribution to the Covid-19 response.
Commenting, Mrs Cameron said:
‘‘Throughout the pandemic dental nurses and technicians have worked tirelessly to support the frontline response to Covid-19 and deliver services to their patients. Some staff were redeployed to urgent dental care clinics to help provide emergency treatment at the peak of initial waves.
We shouldn’t overlook the fact that these staff are not considered full NHS employees even though they carry out services on behalf of the health service. As a result, they have responded to this crisis without having access to the same terms and conditions as other health staff or the security of key worker status. This has made securing childcare more difficult and also meant they couldn’t benefit from early morning supermarket access available to other workers.
The Health Minister has already set out his stall in relation to improving and standardising terms and conditions for care home staff and in light of this he should look seriously at the status of dental care professionals too.
It is vital that these staff benefit from the £500 Covid recognition payment as is the case in other regions of the United Kingdom. However, support must go further than that. Moving forward, as we chart a course beyond Covid, all appropriate steps must be taken to ensure every frontline employee in every profession receives a fair deal.’’