Financial assistance need for health professionals in independent practice, says Muir

A package of assistance needs to be given to health professionals in independent practice unable to access business grant schemes, Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has said.

North Down MLA Mr Muir, alongside colleague Paula Bradshaw MLA, has written to Economy Minister Diane Dodds and Health Minister Robin Swann calling for financial help for the likes of physios and podiatrists operating as businesses. He said securing their future would not only continue to provide a vital service, but also take pressure off the NHS.

“The ability to access the Department for the Economy’s £10,000 small business support grant scheme has been a lifeline for many but it is only eligible for businesses with a net annual value of less than £15,000. Many businesses over that limit are worried about their long-term viability, while also being concerned about short-term rent, utility and other bills.

“As I know from personal experience, allied health professionals in independent practices such as physiotherapists, podiatrists and others played a vital role prior to this crisis, assisting the NHS by taking on patients. In addition, many older people in particular enjoy the social side of activity classes organised by these professionals. But many are unable to access the support packages out there.

“Without the financial support from Government, many may not get through this pandemic, therefore leading to more strain being put on the NHS to support people seeking rehabilitation post-COVID-19. The Ministers need to urgently consider a package of assistance for private health professionals to help them see this crisis through.”