NORTH Antrim Ulster Unionist Assemblyman Robin Swann has been named as Health Minister in the new Stormont Executive.
Mr Swann said: “We said tackling the emergency in the health service was our top priority and that is what I am fully committed to doing.
“Too many patients have been waiting for far too long. Delays in treatment are being exacerbated by debilitating shortages in the local workforce.
“I look forward to working with all the staff and my number one priority as the new Minister is to ensure that they receive their long overdue pay award as quickly as possible.
“I do not for one moment underestimate the challenges facing the Northern Ireland Health Service.
“In recent weeks all parties have unanimously said they want to see the problems in our health service resolved. I trust that that collegiality and shared responsibility will continue.
“Party politics must stay out of our health service – there is simply no other issue more important than the health and wellbeing people of our people.
Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Steve Aiken OBE MLA, said: “Whilst all other Parties chose to pass over the health portfolio, the Ulster Unionist Party did not. We honoured our pledge to select the health portfolio if the opportunity arose and that is what we have done.
“Robin Swann is the best person for the job and has demonstrated his commitment to public service throughout his career. He has personal experience of the importance of the Health Service and will do all he can to help bring about solutions.
“The challenges facing the Health Service and its staff are daunting, but no matter what, they have to be addressed and resolved. The Ulster Unionist Party has never shirked its responsibilities and for the sake of all our people I hope that all parties will work collegiately to resolve the health emergency for the sake of patients, staff and the wider population.
“The Secretary of State said that funding would be provided if a Northern Ireland Executive was re-established. He now needs to back up his words with actions. That means providing the funding which he has promised. We need detail about what funding is available, when it is available and we need it quickly.”
The two junior Ministers appointed were DUP MLA for East Antrim, Gordon Lyons and Sinn Féin MLA for South Antrim, Declan Kearney.