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Nursing conference in city cancelled due to industrial action

A major cross-border nursing conference planned for Belfast next week has been cancelled.

The All-Ireland Chief Nursing Officers' Conference was to be held in Titanic Belfast on December 3, the same day that members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Northern Ireland begin industrial action.

This will be the first time in the RCN's 103-year history that such action has been taken in protest over staffing numbers and pay.

Nurses and midwives from across Ireland were due to attend the conference to address issues on the future of health and social care.

The Unison union's head of bargaining and representation Anne Speed said the decision to cancel the conference was the "right one".

"To hold a conference considering the future of nursing on the same day as nurses have been forced to take industrial action because of the ongoing crisis in our health service would have been totally inappropriate," she said.

"The focus of the chief nursing officer and the Department of Health at this time should be on resolving the unsafe staffing levels and lack of pay parity that have forced nurses to take industrial action in the first place."

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The Department of Health said the event was cancelled "to ensure minimal disruption to frontline services", adding: "It is regrettable that the RCN announced its intention to begin industrial action on the same day as the All-Ireland Chief Nursing Officers conference, an important event in the nursing calendar, promoting the profession and its future development."

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