Belfast Telegraph

Health strike: Spirits high at Antrim Area Hospital picket line

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 Bain

By Mark Bain

Spirits were high at Antrim Area Hospital despite the frustrations which have built up over years of underfunding in the healthcare system.

Joining staff Unison Assistant General Secretary Christina McAnea said members had simply had enough of watching the years of neglect suffered by the health service.

Have you been impacted by today's strike action? Contact our news team at digital.editorial@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

“What’s really important is that we’ve exposed the fact that people in Northern Ireland who work in health and social care don’t get the same pay as others in the rest of the UK.

"That’s a total and utter scandal.

“This has shone a light on the fact that the NHS in Northern Ireland has been starved of funds and that’s had a massive impact on patients as well.

“The stress this puts people who work in the NHS under is incredible.

“We don’t want to be out here taking strike action but we have been forced into doing this. Staff see the danger and the risk to patients because of the lack of funding.

“Politicians need to get their act together get the money into the system pay the staff what they’re due and actually fund the NHS in thus country.”

Emergency Department nurses joined the protest. They told the Belfast Telegraph of the "horrendous" working conditions experienced in a 12-hour shift.

“You can’t get a break. Patients are coming at you for everything. You don’t have time to give people the care they need," said one worker.

“You can’t get people to the toilet. It’s embarrassing. It’s degrading.

“Take a walk through. From the front door down the corridor there are six beds. We have no x-ray department any more. ACU is closed. It’s horrendous.”

Alliance councillor Neil Kelly, also a registered nurse said, for him, it was a struggle to come out and strike.

"We've had to come out on strike. We haven't decided this easily. Things need to change," he said.

Alliance councillor Victoria McAuley added: "I have been a doctor in emergency for 16 years and I've heard the nurses talking about safety issues. They spend so much of their time fighting against the system."

John Blair MLA said he was determined to show his support for the workers.

"I fully understand the reasons for this action. I only hope the Secretary of State is watching and will join in to resolve the issues as soon as possible for the sake of the people who need care and the people who work so hard to deliver it."

In Magherafelt workers at Mid Ulster Hospital have seen services downgraded over the past decade.

Linda Convery is a residential social care worker.

“We would work 24-and-a-half-hour shifts. Conditions are very, very stressful. Long hours, no breaks, working through the night.

“It all has a huge impact on my health and well-being. I’m in a state of exhaustion.

“Politicians must think about us, think about the people who need our care, which are affected by all the overworked, exhausted and demoralised staff.”

Linda Convery.jpg
Linda Convery

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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