“The DUP has launched a full frontal attack on the trade union UNISON for questioning the rationale of UUP Minister Robin Swann’s decision to mobilise the British Army into hospitals with the support of Sinn Féin and the rest of the Stormont Executive. This latest proposal from the Executive fits right into its pattern of decisions that are aimed to increase division and obscure its calamitous approach to the pandemic.
The DUP, in particular, is in no position to criticise UNISON or any trade union. From the beginning of the pandemic the DUP has followed the catastrophic policies of Boris Johnson and the Tories. Its leading representatives have aped former US President Donald Trump’s undermining of expert health advice and mocking of wearing masks. In doing so the DUP has made combating the covid virus more difficult for health workers and increased dangers for all communities.
The Executive has refused to fully bring private hospitals within the health service to address the pandemic crisis. This has happened elsewhere but our Ministers have refused to take this decisive decision which would then avoid the divisive proposal it is now pursuing. The question needs to be posed as to why not?
The health service is under incredible pressure now because of the shambolic policies of DUP and the entire Executive throughout the pandemic. Never once has there been a serious discussion by the Stormont Executive parties about breaking with the Tories to implement a Zero-Covid strategy on the lines of New Zealand and elsewhere. The refusal to do this has meant people have died unnecessarily, it means Red Flag cancer surgery has been unnecessarily cancelled and it has financially destroyed the lives of many people. None of what has occurred has been inevitable.
The DUP, along with the rest of the Executive, has voted consistently to slash the health service budget, block pay increases for health workers and has done nothing to address the health service staffing crisis. Worse still, the DUP propped up a Tory government that was putting its plans to destroy the health service into hyperdrive.
All of this has undermined the morale and confidence of health service workers. A survey found that more than half of health workers plan to leave the health service in the next year. 44% say they want to bring forward retirement plans. The DUP and the Executive has done nothing to champion UNISON‘s demand for an immediate £2000 pay rise for all health workers.
The DUP and the Executive want to blame everyone but themselves for covid infection rates. However, it’s their policies and dose after dose of hypocrisy that has led to the crisis for the health service.
There would be no need for the divisive discussion of mobilising troops into the health service if the Executive fully requisitioned private care hospitals into the health service. An immediate pay increase for health workers would bolster staff morale and attract new recruits. The Executive should urgently consider implementing a Zero-Covid strategy.”