Northern Ireland pay deal finally confirmed but nurses still striking – Nursing Times

‘Nurses have made their voice heard loud and clear’
09 December, 2022 By
Source:&nbsp Koshiro K /
Nurses in Northern Ireland have finally received confirmation of a pay award for this year following an eight-month delay. However, unions are still vowing to send their members on strike.
The Department of Health in Northern Ireland said it was now in a position to implement a pay uplift for NHS staff to cover 2022-23 which will be backed to April, when it was first due.
“If we truly value the health service, we must resolve the crisis in nursing”
Rita Devlin
The award will see most staff on the Agenda for Change scheme receive a boost of £1,400 to their full-time equivalent salaries, as per the recommendations of the NHS Pay Review Body.
The below-inflation pay package is the same as that received by nurses in England and Wales which is causing them to strike this month.
The Royal College of Nursing and Unison are among the unions in Northern Ireland that have already received a mandate from their members to strike over pay and they told Nursing Times the pay award would not change that.
They said the award introduced pay parity for nurses in Northern Ireland with their counterparts in England and Wales but did nothing to resolve the wider NHS pay dispute.
RCN strikes are due to take place in Northern Ireland on 15 and 20 December, while Unison will host strikes in the country on 12 December.
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Rita Devlin, director of the RCN in Northern Ireland, said: “Nursing staff have been waiting on the implementation of this pay award for some months and while we acknowledge this is a step in the right direction to recognise the hard-working staff in our health services, for our members, it is not a big enough step.
“Staff will be relieved that they are no longer out of pay parity with their colleagues in England and Wales, but this does not resolve the RCN’s current dispute on pay.”
She said there were now nearly 3,000 nursing vacancies in Northern Ireland and that the 2022-23 pay award would fail to address issues around nurse recruitment and retention.
“The department will now move to implement these pay awards as a matter of urgency”
Department of Health spokesperson
“Until we resolve the difficulties in pay, our health service will remain an unattractive proposition for many nursing staff who are not only leaving the HSC [Health and Social Care] but are leaving the profession altogether,” she added.
“If we truly value the health service, we must resolve the crisis in nursing.”
Anne Speed, Unison head of bargaining and representation, said its members were continuing with industrial action to “secure protection from rising costs and increased threat of poverty”.
“Without protection against inflation… workers essentially suffer a pay cut,” she added.
“We are part of a whole Unison and health trade union campaign to secure that protection.
“This uplift will not settle that dispute and we will continue to join with Unison members across the NHS to press the UK Government with strategy of industrial action and campaigning to resource and support NHS staff retention and pay protection.”
GMB members in Northern Ireland have also voted to strike and Nursing Times has contacted the union for a response to the pay deal.
The delay in the pay award being implemented in Northern Ireland was related to the fact the country has been without a fully functioning executive because of a political fall out over the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol.
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Announcing the pay award yesterday, a Northern Ireland Department of Health spokesperson said: “The department shares the frustration of all our HSC colleagues in the delays in implementing the pay recommendations for 2022-23.
“While the former minister had accepted the recommendations in full, the lack of a public sector pay policy and budgetary uncertainty prevented any further progress.
“These hurdles have now been cleared for this year and the department will now move to implement these pay awards as a matter of urgency to ensure colleagues see their pay increase as soon as possible.”
The Department of Health said it was “expected” that staff would receive their pay increase before the end of the financial year.
Nurses in Northern Ireland went on strike in 2019-20 over pay and staffing – the first ever strike organised by the RCN in its long history.
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