Northern Ireland

NHS unions threaten strike action

NHS signs Image copyright PA

National Health Service workers in Northern Ireland may take strike action over being offered no pay rise.

Three unions representing health workers have all said they are planning industrial action.

Kevin McAdam of Unite expressed disappointment with Health Minister Jim Wells' statement that there would be no pay rise for health care workers under the 2014-15 health budget.

They intend to bring forward plans for further stoppages across the NHS.

In the meantime Mr McAdam said: "Unite will continue our 'work-to-rule' action."


Where the health cuts will fall

•Temporary closure of three minor injury units at Armagh, Whiteabbey and Bangor

•Temporary closure of 27 intermediate care/rehabilitation beds in Northern Trust area, including seven in Mid Ulster and 20 in Dalriada

•Temporary closure of nine medical beds at Downe Hospital, six at Lagan Valley and 20 GP beds at Bangor in South Eastern Trust area

•Some changes in domiciliary care spend based on reassessing current needs, across the trusts

•Western Trust will accelerate planned changes at the Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh


He added: "We hope that other unions representing workers in the health sector will now join with Unite and GMB to build mass opposition to the minister's miserly approach to health workers pay"

Priority

Unison have called for even wider action.

A spokesperson said: "Unison was forced to take industrial action over cuts in 2011.

"We will now do so again. This time we call for a mass mobilisation of civil society, to stand with us to protect health and social care and our most vulnerable people.

"If the current political and public sector institutions cannot make the health of the people a number one priority then they have failed us all and no amount of talks about talks will put this right."


Impact on health staff

•2.5% cut to arm's length bodies and Department of Health administration costs, no additional funding for pharmacy spend

•Staff will get either the incremental pay progression they are entitled to or a 1% non-consolidated pay award if they are at the top of their pay scale

•Subject to consultation, higher and lower clinical excellence awards will not be made to senior medical staff for 2012/13 and 2013/14

• Belfast Trust will restrict the recruitment of administration and clerical staff until the end of the year and reduce backfill cover in relation to current administration and clerical vacancies


Kevin McCabe, assistant secretary for the Northern Ireland Public Service Association (Nipsa) said: "Cost of living rises during the past four years means that our members have taken a cut of nearly 13% on what their wages were worth in 2010.

"As Minister Wells ignores the NHS Pay Review Body recommendation in its totality, then he leaves our members with no option but to be balloted for industrial action."

Nipsa claim that the majority NIPSA members working in the Northern Ireland health service will receive a zero per cent rise in their wages.

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