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Strike action will hit patients, says Edwin Poots

Health Minister Edwin Poots has warned that strike action by Unison members will impact on the care of patients.

The trade union has announced members working in the health service will walk out for 24 hours on October 5.

Mr Poots said: “I am deeply concerned and very disappointed in the decision to strike. I believe this action will be counter-productive and will cause unnecessary disruption to our health service.

“We all want a better health service but taking strike action which will affect patients and staff is not the best way to achieve this.”

The minister went on to claim that the union had not exhausted all options. “My door is always open and I am always prepared to talk to those who represent the healthcare workforce — that is how to get things resolved,” he said.

“Instead, I am disappointed that they have chosen to take drastic action that will cost the health service money and affect patients.”

The strike will hit all health workers except doctors and teaching staff.

Unison's Patricia McKeown said the Executive had to rethink its strategy on budget cuts. “We are at a critical stage in many areas,” she added.

She said the union had received a number of letters from the public supporting the strike and expected more unions to declare industrial action soon.

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