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Decisive action required following two year stalemate in health

3 Feb 2024

The RCN has welcomed the return of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive.

NI Stormont

Welcoming the restoration of power-sharing in Northern Ireland and the formation of an Executive, Rita Devlin, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland says no more time should be wasted and that action is needed now to resolve the crisis in nursing and health and social care:

“Following two years of political stalemate which has decimated our health and social care services, nurses hope that today will bring a brighter future for the people of Northern Ireland. Nursing staff have been fighting for months to get someone to listen to their concerns and act upon the deepening crisis in health which has been compounded by shortages of nursing staff and no pay award for 2023-24.

“Despite an unfortunate sense of deja-vu in our fight to restore pay parity with UK colleagues, there's no time to waste in getting this issue resolved quickly. We've requested a meeting with Health Minister, Robin Swann MLA, who I'm sure will be in no doubt this should be at the top of his list of priorities.

“Without nursing staff there's no health service and the safe staffing legislation that was promised four years ago is another issue we'd like to see progressed without delay. It's our hope we can then make the changes necessary to transform health and social care to where it needs to be. This will require courage and determination.

“Above all, it's the patients who are suffering on lengthy waiting lists and who are simply not receiving the care and treatment they require who must be prioritised. Nurses have told us they cannot deliver the care they want to on a daily basis. This is causing severe emotional distress and damaging our profession. While we welcome the return of the Executive and the opportunity for locally elected politicians to make decisions, please be left in no doubt that we're in a very serious situation which needs swift and urgent action.”

Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive added: “The return of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive is to be greatly welcomed. Four years after pay parity was first restored to nursing staff in Northern Ireland, the Executive must now take urgent action to restore parity once more. The past two years of political inaction has forced many to question their future in our profession, adding to chronic nursing shortages across all sectors.

“This has been a frustrating period for nursing staff and patients alike and while today’s breakthrough follows an unnecessary repeat of history, it is now time for politicians to demonstrate their support for nursing and health care.

“We look forward to working closely with the new Executive and Health Minister to influence on behalf of our members and prevent strike action being necessary to get their voices heard.”

Page last updated - 09/02/2024