The Ulster Unionist Party has called on the Health Minister to resolve the dispute with the Royal College of Nursing which has culminated in the unprecedented threat of our nurses taking industrial action. The Party has said that the recommendation of a 1% pay rise from the UK’s Independent Pay Review Body should be implemented immediately.
Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, said:
“Health workers such as our nurses and midwives are the backbone of the local National Health Service; without them our hospitals and clinics would simply not be able to function. It is therefore hugely regrettable that they are being treated so appallingly by the local Health Department and Health Minister. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where nurses have not received a pay rise, meaning that they are now paid less than their counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales. Implementing this year’s recommended increase would at least prevent the pay gap growing any larger, and would then provide a space for discussion for the wider issue to be resolved.
“A 1% pay rise is not excessive, it’s not unique and it’s not undeliverable. Entire sections of the NHS workforce, not least our nurses, are angry right now. The Minister should have stood up and took notice earlier this year when a body as eminent as the Royal College of Midwives voted 9-1 in favour of holding strike action for the first time in its 134 year history. He didn’t however and now the Royal College of Nurses have clearly been pushed to the limit and are asking their members to vote on industrial action.”
Former Ulster Unionist Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey MLA, said:
“Given that our medical staff in Northern Ireland are signed up to the NHS’s wider UK terms and conditions, when the Independent Pay Review Body recommends a 1% increase, it should be implemented. No ifs, no buts – it is a simple matter of fairness. It is inexcusable that, as a result of the mismanagement of the Health Service and Health Department, our nurses are left literally paying the cost.
“It is up to the Minister Simon Hamilton to explain why he believes nurses in Northern Ireland are less deserving of even a basic pay rise this year, when their counterparts in other regions of the UK have received one. By refusing to award it, this has now put staff throughout the Health Service in Northern Ireland on an unequal footing and this is only further contributing to the rock bottom morale across the wider workforce.
“Nurses in Northern Ireland are working under unprecedented pressure in circumstances that are continuing to get worse. The Minister needs to recognise that the health service is on the cusp of losing many of its most important workers. Simon Hamilton can’t afford to allow this to happen and therefore his next step should be clear – he needs to grant the 1% pay rise immediately.”