Following the meeting, the RCN Northern Ireland Board commented: “There is no doubt that nursing staff are angry and frustrated at the absence of any pay offer for Northern Ireland.
“It is well-documented that the RCN and other health trade unions had a meeting with the Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris, during which he committed to a series of actions including seeking clarification on our serious concerns about a budget for health and the offer of a pay award to resolve our current dispute.
“RCN members in England have voted to reject the most recent offer from the UK Government and will be embarking on further strike action at the end of April. Today, we are making it clear that nothing is off the table and that nursing staff in Northern Ireland may also be forced to take this action if we do not get a pay offer soon.
“It is deeply distressing that three years after local, elected politicians promised that we would never fall out of pay parity again, that this is a very real prospect. We have no-one to advocate for nursing staff and patients in Northern Ireland. Quite simply, we believe that we have been left to sink in what is a complete mess.
“Despite warnings from various healthcare organisations, nothing tangible has been done to try to resolve the many issues we are facing, of which pay is just one. We are in regular contact with the Department of Health to impress upon them the seriousness of the situation facing health and social care services across every area and discipline.
“We have no option but to wait until we meet the Secretary of State again to see if the government is in a position to set a budget and make a pay offer. However, as RCN elected representatives, we are making it clear that we will not hesitate to move quickly to further strike action if no offer is forthcoming.”