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Health strike: Action continues after pay offer rejected


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Health strike: Action continues after pay offer rejected

Image copyright PAcemaker Industrial action at some Northern Ireland hospitals will continue on Friday after a new pay offer to health workers was rejected.The South Eastern Trust is warning of afternoon closures at its outpatient departments, including the Ulster and Lagan Valley hospitals.Health workers are unhappy at pay and staffing levels which they claim are…

Health strike: Action continues after pay offer rejected

Health strikeImage copyright
PAcemaker

Industrial action at some Northern Ireland hospitals will continue on Friday after a new pay offer to health workers was rejected.

The South Eastern Trust is warning of afternoon closures at its outpatient departments, including the Ulster and Lagan Valley hospitals.

Health workers are unhappy at pay and staffing levels which they claim are “unsafe”.

Talks were held at Stormont on Thursday but failed to reach agreement.

The Belfast Trust said all its services would operate as normal.

Full details of the cancellations and advice for patients can be found on the Health and Social Care Board website.

Richard Pengelly from the department said he was desperately disappointed the offer, which involved an additional £28m, had been turned down.

The unions involved in the industrial action said the offer remained “insufficient”.

Speaking at Antrim Area Hospital on Friday, Unison’s Stephanie Greenwood said members had been “insulted” by the new offer.

Ms Greenwood said she hoped a statement from the department that no further pay offers would be made this year had been made “in the heat of the moment”.

“I left a hospital ward this morning with 27 patients being nursed by three nurses and two nursing auxiliaries,” she said.

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“That is not safe staffing and it is going to get worse as the industrial action progresses.”

‘Political footballs’

Speaking to Good Morning Ulster, Pat Cullen, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Northern Ireland, said the talks had been a “step in the right direction” but that the pay offer “doesn’t reach parity with England”.

She said talks could resume “when more money is on the table” and there was a concern from members of her union they were being used as “political footballs in a bigger system”.

The South Eastern Trust has listed the services that will be affected on Friday:

  • Lisburn Adult Resource Centre (LARC) closed from noon onwards. Service users and their families have been informed. Patients may still attend up to noon.
  • Mental Health Assessment Centre routine appointments cancelled – North Down and Ards area only. Patients have been informed and appointments rescheduled.
  • All Outpatient Departments at Ulster Hospital, Lagan Valley, Downe, Ards and Bangor Hospitals will be closed in the afternoon. This does not affect Podiatry, Physiotherapy, Speech and Language Therapy, ICATS and Occupational Therapy appointments. Endoscopy appointments are being kept under review.
  • Day Case Surgery – ENT and Gynae – at Lagan Valley is cancelled.
  • Medical Day Case Unit, Dermatology Laser Unit, Cath Lab and Ambulatory Hubs at the Ulster Hospital will be closed in the afternoon.
  • The Community Dental Service – no patient clinics will go ahead in Ballynahinch (1 session) and Downe Hospital (2 sessions). All patients have been contacted and will be rescheduled.

The trust apologised and said it would do its best to inform patients of any changes in advance on its website, Facebook and Twitter sites.

All six of Northern Ireland’s health health trusts have said the action was likely to result in “a significant risk to patient safety”.

Last month, Northern Ireland’s nurses voted for the first time ever to go on strike, with members of the largest health union following suit days later.

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