Significant new proposals to end the health service industrial dispute have been made to trade unions by Health Minister Robin Swann.

The measures include the immediate restoration of pay parity with England and were endorsed by the full Northern Ireland Executive.

The Health Minister met with trade union officials immediately after the Executive discussions to outline the new offer.

The proposals include commitments on safe staffing, also endorsed by the Executive meeting. Mr Swann spelt out the new measures in a written statement to the Assembly. He told MLAs he believes a settlement to the health dispute can now be achieved.

‘I presented a paper to Executive colleagues this morning. I am grateful to my fellow Ministers for endorsing those proposals.

‘Additional funding has now been secured. Pay parity with England can be restored.

‘Our nurses and other great health and social care staff can come off the picket line, can get back to the jobs that they love and do so well.’

The Minister also told the Assembly, ‘I sincerely hope and believe trade unions will now bring industrial action to a swift end.’

Mr Swann further stated, ‘This is a good day after some very difficult days. I am grateful to my colleagues around the Executive table for helping to make it happen.

‘We have moved significantly, and quickly, to take action together. That is a sign of optimism for the future. I know there is scepticism in many quarters about what this Health Minister and this Executive can do for the health and social care service. That is entirely understandable. Many good people doubt whether we can set party politics aside work and work together constructively. We shall see.

‘But maybe, just maybe, today will give the sceptics some pause for thought.’