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Low pay triggered action by health staff


Warning: Jeremy Hunt

Warning: Jeremy Hunt

Warning: Jeremy Hunt

Pay is the underlying trigger for the dispute which has involved thousands of health workers across the UK striking for the first time in more than 30 years.

An independent pay review board of experts who advise the Government on NHS pay recommended a 1% pay rise should be across the board including midwives, nurses, paramedics and other health care workers.

But this recommendation was rejected by UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who maintained that 55% of health staff will receive a pay rise of 3% and warned that giving all staff a 1% increase would cost 4,000 nursing posts.

Instead the Government voted to give NHS staff a 1% increase on their pay if they have not received what are called incremental pay rises. This rewards people for their professional development.

Those increases are given to about half of all staff and are worth 3% a year on average.

But this has angered unions with unions pointing out that the 1% being received by some staff is a one-off payment.

In Scotland the 1% rise was awarded to everyone.

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However no decision has been made in Northern Ireland.

Workers in Northern Ireland have experienced a pay freeze for almost five years leading to frustration amongst unions.

Unions have been left further frustrated over the failure of both the former Health Minister Edwin Poots and his successor Jim Wells to make any pay offer to staff.

The Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety previously said while it has recognised staff have "clear contractual entitlements to progression /performance pay" but said there was no flexibility for a 1% increase without impacting directly on patient care.

Patricia McKeown, regional secretary of Unison, said: "Our people are facing a stark fifth year of pay freeze and that is having a very adverse impact, particularly on the lowest paid of health workers."

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