Belfast Telegraph

Health strike: How industrial action will impact services across Northern Ireland

  • 11th hour talks to avert strike fail
  • Nurses and paramedics are set to begin strike action at midnight
Northern Ireland nurses on strike. 18/12/2019 Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland nurses on strike. 18/12/2019 Photo Laura Davison/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland NHS workers at the Ulster Hospital in Belfast on Wednesday, December 18.
Nurses on strike at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital. 18/12/2019
About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ulster Hospital in Belfast - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ulster Hospital in Belfast - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ulster Hospital in Belfast - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ulster Hospital in Belfast - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ulster Hospital in Belfast - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ulster Hospital in Belfast - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ulster Hospital in Belfast - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ulster Hospital in Belfast - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ulster Hospital in Belfast - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ulster Hospital in Belfast - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ulster Hospital in Belfast - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital - About 15,500 nurses in Northern Ireland have begun strike action in a dispute over pay and patient safety. 18/12/2019 Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Nurses are striking in a protest over pay and patient safety. Nurses and health care workers are pictured at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses take to the picket lines over pay and patient safety. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses take to the picket lines over pay and patient safety. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses take to the picket lines over pay and patient safety. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses take to the picket lines over pay and patient safety. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses take to the picket lines over pay and patient safety. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses and health care workers strike at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses and health care workers on strike at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses and health care workers strike at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses and health care workers on strike at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses and health care workers on strike at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses and health care workers on strike at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Nurses and health care workers on strike at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Health workers taking part in industrial action in Northern Ireland
Nurses and hospital staff on strike at midnight in the Ulster Hospital on December 18th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Nurses and hospital staff on strike at midnight in the Ulster Hospital on December 18th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Nurses and hospital staff on strike at midnight in the Ulster Hospital on December 18th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

Nurses and paramedics are due to begin strike action at midnight as the health crisis in Northern Ireland deepens.

Health unions called the strike in protest at pay and staffing levels which they claim present "unsafe" working conditions.

The leaders of Northern Ireland's five main political parties have written to Secretary of State Julian Smith urging him to intervene to stop the strike.

They said any future Northern Ireland Executive would restore pay parity for health workers.

A last minute meeting was held between the parties and the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service David Sterling on Tuesday evening to try and find a solution.

Speaking after the meeting DUP leader Arlene Foster said the best way to resolve the issue was to "have a local Minister appointed immediately".

However, Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said that Mr Smith had refused to meet with party leaders ahead of the strike action.

Sign In

UUP leader Steve Aiken, SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon and Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw all expressed their disappointment at the decision.

The Northern Ireland Office has said that "health remains a devolved matter".

Nurses are set to strike for 12 hours on Wednesday while paramedics are staging a 24-hour walk out.

Health Trusts have urged patients to visit their various websites for the latest updates.

The Belfast Telegraph takes a look at how the industrial action will impact on services in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Health Trust

  • Majority of inpatients will have surgery cancelled
  • All daycase and endoscopy appointments are cancelled
  • The majority of outpatient appointments will be cancelled at Belfast City Hospital, Royal Victoria Hospital, Children's Hospital, Mater Hospital and Musgrave Park Hospital.
  • Patients contacted directly over cancellations
  • At Belfast City Hospital the Bridgewater Suite, including patients who would usually attend urology day care for chemotherapy treatment are not cancelled.
  • All community dental appointments at Arches, Beech Hall, Bradbury, Carlisle and Knockbreda have been cancelled, as well as gynae and ophthalmology clinics at Beech Hall and Shankhill
  • Some telephone review appointments will continue as normal
  • In Wellbeing and Treatment Centres the majority of outpatient appointments will proceed as normal, with the exception of community dental clinics, gynaecology and ophthalmology clinics at Beech Hall and Shankill centres
  • Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech & Language Therapy, Dietetics and Podiatry services to community and domiciliary patients and clients will continue as normal.
  • There will be disruption to a number of community services provided to adults, families and children.
  • Domiciliary care services will not be affected.
  • Critical/essential calls have been identified within core District nursing teams which will be maintained. There will be a limited service in place for specialist community nursing services.

Northern Health Trust

  • Widespread disruption to services
  • 325 outpatient appointments cancelled
  • 52 Inpatient procedures and day cases cancelled as well as 43 endoscopy
  • Significantly greater pressures on urgent and emergency care services, including Emergency Departments and it is anticipated that non-urgent cases will experience long waits.
  • Mid Ulster Minor Injury Unit closed.
  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner streams in Antrim Area Hospital and Causeway Emergency Departments not operational.
  • Significant disruption expected to a wide range of social care and community services, including treatment rooms, social work cover, day centres, older person’s services, community mental health services and children’s services.
  • Around 867 district nursing visits rescheduled.
  • Care packages delivered by the Trust’s Homecare Service will not get lunchtime call. Those impacted are being contacted directly and advised to plan for that eventuality.
  • Reduced MS respite capacity at Dalriada Hospital
  • Patients contacted directly over cancellations

Southern Health Trust

  • Planning for widespread disruption to hospital and community services
  • 1,029 outpatient appointments cancelled.
  • 75 Inpatient procedures and day cases cancelled. Emergency surgery will go ahead.
  • 172 appointments in community based clinics cancelled and nine treatment rooms closed.
  • Patients contacted over cancellations.
  • Minor Injuries Unit in South Tyrone Hospital, Dungannon will be closed on Wednesday, re-opening Thursday morning at 9am.
  • Emergency Departments at Daisy Hill and Craigavon Hospitals will be open, but expected to be very busy.
  • All community Mental Health services at Trasna House in Lurgan closed. Anyone who requires urgent care should contact their GP who will have access to Emergency and Urgent Mental Health services.
  • 21 day centres/resource centres will be closed.
  • Community-based clinics will also be affected – 172 appointment cancelled. Patients have been notified.
  • District nursing service will be limited in all areas to essential calls only.
  • Domiciliary Care will only be provided to the most dependent service users.
  • There will be no canteen/coffee bar facilities available in the Trust – only patient meals will be provided.

South Eastern Health Trust

  • Planning for widespread disruption to hospital and community services across the Trust area.
  • 467 outpatient appointments cancelled.
  • 151 surgeries cancelled. Emergency surgery not affected.
  • 164 day procedures cancelled.
  • Ulster Emergency Department to prioritise seriously ill patients and urgent cases.
  • Minor Injury Units at Ards and Bangor Hospitals will be closed and will re-open on 19 December.
  • District nursing teams will be facilitating emergency calls only.
  • Domiciliary Care - a small number of home calls have been cancelled.
  • All treatment rooms in GP surgeries closed.
  • Mental Health Services – teams will prioritise high risk and acutely ill patients.
  • All day centres remain open. Families informed regarding disruption to transport and catering.
  • Other services may be disrupted and may not run on time. There may also be further cancellations announced.
  • Patients contacted over cancellations

Western Health Trust

  • Planning for widespread disruption to hospital and community services
  • Patients contacted over cancellations for rescheduled appointment
  • 582 outpatients new and review outpatient appointments postponed.
  • 34 planned inpatient and day case procedures have been cancelled (from Tuesday 17 to Thursday 19 December).
  • All routine mental health outpatient appointments have been cancelled (Urgent and crisis response calls will be responded to as normal).
  • 40 appointments postponed at ‘Fast Lane Breast Clinic’.
  • Antenatal appointments have been rescheduled.
  • All non-emergency Children’s Services will be stood-down. Emergency services, including child protection and crisis response will be available.
  • Many community services have been stood down including School Nursing Service; Sexual Health and Gum Services; Health Visiting services with the exception of six identified clinics. Children’s Disability Teams; Children’s Respite Services at Avalon House; RISE Team; Behavioural Support Team; Autism/ASD Services and CAMHS services.
  • Emergency CAMHS crisis intervention team will continue to operate as normal on this day.
  • 7 Family Centres will close.
  • 19 Adult Mental Health, Learning and Physical Disability Centres will close.
  • Strabane Day Centre closed.
  • 23 Treatment rooms closed.
  • OPALS Rapid Access Clinic will be cancelled. The memory clinic will also be cancelled.
  • There will be limited catering facilities. All patient meals will be prioritised. Canteen and coffee shops will close. Staff and visitors should make alternative catering arrangements.
  • There may be delays in answering calls at hospital switch boards.
  • All statutory residential homes run by the Western Trust will be operating as normal.
  • Patients and service users that are directly affected have been contacted. If you have not been contacted assume your care will proceed as planned.

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service

  • Significant disruption expected
  • Calls prioritised to provide the quickest and most appropriate response to meet the clinical needs of patients including cancer, renal and palliative patient.
  • Calls to the 999 service which are less serious in nature, potentially, face a delay in response times and NIAS has asked for patience from callers.
  • NIAS is also encourage callers to consider other options open to them in relation to their care, including self-care (using the online A-Z symptom checker, click here); seeking pharmacy advice, contacting your GP or self-presentation at Emergency Departments.

Health and Social Care Board

  • Patients contacted over cancellations and appointments rescheduled.
  • Patients who have not been contacted by their Trust should attend as planned.
  • All Emergency Departments (EDs) will be open as normal and if patients are seriously ill or injured, then the ED is the place to go no matter how busy the EDs may be.
  • You can find out the waiting times at all EDs and Minor Injury Units across the region by clicking here. The NI Direct webpage is updated hourly.
  • The following Minor Injuries Units (MIU) will be closed; South Tyrone Hospital MIU, Mid Ulster MIU, Bangor MIU, Ards MIU.
  • HSCB asked the public to use services responsibly pointing to a range of services.
  • These include using the online A-Z symptom checker (click here), seeking advice from your local pharmacist, contacting your GP, or the GP Our of Hours services (if your medical condition can't wait until the GP surgery reopens)

St John Ambulance

The charity provides ambulances for non-emergency patients.

Adrian Donaldson, chief executive of St John Ambulance in Northern Ireland said: "We are not doing anything that will mitigate the strike but we are carrying out our normal duties under our contracts with NIAS. We are not taking any action which would mitigate against the strike as we fully sympathise with our colleagues in the NHS."

Blood Transfusion Service

  • There will be no blood donation sessions taking place on Wednesday.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph