The chief executives of Northern Ireland’s six health and care trusts have appealed to the UK government for improved pay for Health and Social Care staff.
In a bold move, the CEOs issued a joint letter to Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, stating that their staff faced a ‘de facto pay freeze’ with no pay award in place for 2023/24.
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Health and Social Care (HSC) workers are the lowest paid in the UK and the trust leaders called for ‘concrete action’ on pay awards to address the workforce crisis and fairly reward staff who are delivering under enormous pressure.
'It is unsustainable and unfair that they should be left with a de facto pay freeze during a cost of living crisis,' the letter said.
Public-sector HSC in Northern Ireland have received no pay award in 2023-24, compounding a below-inflation pay award made in 2022-23. This is due to the lack of an executive in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Elsewhere, NHS workers in England received a five per cent increase in 2023-24, plus a one-off payment of at least £1,655.
Claire Ronald, the CSP’s senior negotiating officer for Northern Ireland, welcomed the CEOs' letter.
She said: ‘The situation is completely unfair on staff and placing an unacceptable pressure on the ability of services to provide care to patients.
The secretary of state must step in to provide additional funds for a fair pay award that helps recruit and retain the staff that patients in Northern Ireland desperately need.
'If the secretary of state does not step in there could be the potential of further strike action. We know that the British Medical Association (BMA) is now balloting its members and most other unions still have live mandates.'
The CEOs' joint letter has been published on each trust's website – you can read the copy on the Belfast trust website.
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