DUP’s Jim Wells ‘guilty as charged’ for breaking health service pay parity

The Stormont Minister accused of breaking pay parity with health service staff has spoken for the first time – and admitted: “I am guilty as charged.”

But former Health Minister Jim Wells also insisted his decision was unanimously endorsed by the full Executive – and backed since by subsequent Ministers.

Breaking his silence, the DUP MLA also stressed his only alternative would have been to close wards, including cancer wards, and stop the delivery of expensive drugs.

“On all of this, on this occasion I am guilty as charged. All the allegations that I did this are entirely true. It’s as simple as that,” he told Sunday Life.

“I make no bones about it. We had to balance the books.”

The decision to ‘decouple’ from pay rates to health staff in Scotland led directly to the current industrial action by nurses and other staff which has caused the cancellation of thousands of operations and procedures – and seems set to escalate.

But Mr Wells also believes pay parity can now be restored, although it would have to be phased in over three to four years, he said.

And he said he thinks the job of Health Minister is now “impossible”.

“In the 2015/16 budget we were in a situation where we did not have the money to keep increasing pay and so we decoupled from Scotland,” he said.

Health workers taking part in industrial action in Northern Ireland
Health workers taking part in industrial action in Northern Ireland



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