Health staff strike in Northern Ireland as last-ditch deal bid fails
A strike by health workers in Northern Ireland will definitely go ahead today after hopes of a last-minute agreement collapsed.
The Department of Health said "contingency arrangements are in place" if strike action is taken in Northern Ireland to ensure that patient safety is not compromised."
Unions said a proposed pay deal for staff in England drawn up after lengthy talks with the Government in Westminster had not been matched by the department in Northern Ireland.
Thousands of staff, including ambulance workers, are on a 12-hour strike.
The GMB said its members in the NHS will take action for 12 hours from 9am, while ambulance staff will walk out for 12 hours from noon.
A strike planned by NHS staff in England was suspended so union members could be consulted on a new offer.
Meanwhile it was revealed that Unison - which is not taking part in today's strike - is to ballot its members in Northern Ireland for industrial action over pay.