New Health Minister Robin Swann has spoken of his honour at returning to the post.
The Minister emphasised his intention to secure pay settlements for staff and resolve current industrial action.
“That is my immediate priority and I want to see pay negotiations being initiated without delay, consequently I have written to the trade unions inviting them to early discussions. Staff are the bedrock of the health service and they are entitled to proper remuneration for the vital work they do.”
Mr Swann was previously Health Minister from January 2020 to October 2022.
The Minister continued: “I am both honoured and humbled to return to this role. We do not have a minute to waste given the scale of the issues facing services.
“The pressures across all parts of the system have built up over many years and cannot be quickly or simply fixed. However, I am convinced that a way forward is achievable through investment, improved productivity and efficiency and changing how we organise some services.
“I am very conscious of the toll the current pressures and service shortfalls are taking on staff and patients. We must take the right decisions that will give citizens more timely access to care and treatment.
“I intend to see for myself all parts of the health and social care system once again over the coming weeks and this will help inform the policy priorities I will set.”
He continued: “I will also be discussing with Ministerial colleagues about how best the Executive can collectively support health and social care.
“An ailing health service is not just bad for patients and staff – it also impacts heavily on society as a whole.
“Debilitating delays for treatment and care stop people playing their full part in their local community and in the workplace. Improving access to health and social care has to be an absolute priority for Government here.”