Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland NHS staff could miss out on pay rise due to political stalemate

The rise was agreed in England today

An MLA has warned that NHS staff in Northern Ireland are likely to miss out on the 6.5% pay increase announced in England as a result of the continuing political stalemate at Stormont.

NHS staff in England are set to receive a pay rise of at least 6.5% over three years - with some getting as much as 29%.

The deal was formally agreed by union leaders and ministers on Wednesday and will cost over £4.2bn.

Staff will now be asked to vote on the deal with rises backdated to April if they agree by the summer.

Ulster Unionist Party Health Spokesperson, Roy Beggs MLA, claimed Northern Ireland staff could miss out on the rise.

“The UUP has long argued that because health workers here are signed up to the NHS’s wider UK terms and conditions, they should be treated no worse or paid any less than their counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales. Yet that is exactly what has been happening for some time and now, with this latest increase of over 6%, the gap is going to widen even further," the East Antrim MLA said.

“I’m glad that the UK Government has at last decided to move away from the arbitrary and discriminatory 1% pay cap for health workers, something which they would have been forced to drop last year had it not been for the DUP MPs at Westminster disgracefully voting to support its continuation."

“It is an abhorrent situation however that once again our local NHS staff are now going to be left even further behind.

Mr Beggs said an Executive and Health Minister could ensure Northern Ireland staff received the rise.

“Whilst the pay increase in England will see more money coming to Northern Ireland through the Barnett funding system, there are absolutely no guarantees or even suggestions as of yet that the money will be used to pay for a similar pay increase here," he said.

"A local Minister and Executive could ensure the money was spent on a pay deal so I fear instead it will simply be diverted to the black hole in Northern Ireland’s finances.

“The NHS would simply not be the institution we all know and cherish were it not for its staff. The fact that those same staff in Northern Ireland could now be further punished is just the latest example of how people here are being impacted by the recurrent failure of the DUP and Sinn Fein sham talks at Stormont.”

Kevin McAdam, Unite Regional officer with responsibility for his union’s membership in the Health and Social Care sector welcomed the pay deal but called for it to benefit all Northern Ireland healthcare workers.

“It is vital that this pay improvement be passed on fully to healthcare workers in Northern Ireland to ensure that our rates of pay do not fall further behind those in the rest of the UK," Mr McAdam said.

"The fact that workers here are currently paid less than their equivalents in England, Scotland and Wales is inducing workers to take up positions outside the region and is resulting in severe pressures on local healthcare services and provision.

“Today’s announcement represents an opportunity for the Health and Social Care Trust to address the challenge of pay inequality for Northern Ireland’s healthcare workforce. We need to see pay parity on the back of today’s announcement.”

A Spokesperson for the Department of Finance said pay policy had not yet been set for next year.

“Public sector pay is a devolved matter that is determined locally and Pay Policy has yet to be set for 18/19," the spokesperson said.

"When this is in place, it is for Departments to bring forward pay proposals for approval.”

 

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