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Health service pay parity restored in Northern Ireland

Move welcomed by health leaders

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

The measures announced include the immediate restoration of pay parity with England and commitments on safe staffing.

“Additional funding has now been secured. Pay parity with England can be restored. Our nurses and other great health and social care staff can come off the picket line, can get back to the jobs that they love and do so well,” said Mr Swann.

Pat Cullen, director of the RCN in Northern Ireland described the meeting as ‘positive’. The RCN has now called an extraordinary meeting of the RCN Northern Ireland Board on Thursday (16 January 2020) to consider formal communication on safe staffing and pay parity.

“On receipt of this correspondence, the suspension of strike action scheduled for next week may be proposed,” said Ms Cullen.

She added: “We are pleased that the Minister has listened carefully and responded quickly to our concerns, and that the situation in relation to pay parity has now been resolved. We are also satisfied that real progress has been made in relation to safe staffing and recruitment and retention of nursing staff. The Minister has committed to a costed implementation plan for safe staffing within an agreed short period. There is a long way to go and we will work closely with the Minister and Department of Health to find a sustainable way forward.

"Resolving the difficulties in relation to safe staffing has been at the forefront of concerns for RCN members and we made it very clear to the Minister that this issue must be dealt with urgently.

"Nurses in Northern Ireland have been determined to ensure that these issues have been kept at the top of the political agenda. We are immensely grateful to our members who have stood up for patients and nursing during this difficult period of industrial action. At all times during this dispute, they have worked tirelessly to ensure that patient safety has been prioritised.

"We sincerely hope that the developments today will be the start of a new era for health in Northern Ireland and that nurses, who are instrumental in this process, will be given the resources required to get the job done.”

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN chief executive and general secretary, described the steps as ‘hugely significant’.

“Our members can feel proud at the assurances they’ve secured. It was our concerns over patient safety that drove us to take this action and what we’re beginning to hear about staffing levels reassures me that we’re being listened to.

“For too long, pay for nursing staff in Northern Ireland has lagged behind other parts of the UK and today we have moved a huge step closer to ending that.”

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