SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan MLA has called on the Minister for Health Michelle O’Neill to increase starting nursing salaries to match those available in Britain.
The Foyle MLA said: “Of course we welcome the Minister’s confirmation that she intends to at last roll out the promised 1% pay raise for our over-worked and apparently under-valued nurses after I recently questioned her about the delay.
“This is some good, albeit overdue, news for our nurses who are the backbone of our health service.
“What the Minister has failed to address is the disparity in nursing salaries that continues to exist across these islands.
“Figures show that nurses operating in the same pay bracket in England, Scotland and Wales can still expect to earn more from their starting salary.
“The Minister has been left scratching her head when hospitals are left unable to fill staffing vacancies.
“More money is one reason why nurses and other frontline healthcare staff are choosing to work elsewhere.
“With draconian Tory policies on the horizon in relation to foreign workers we could soon find ourselves in the midst of a real staffing crisis when it comes to nursing.
“If we are serious about encouraging people to choose nursing and practice in Northern Ireland, we cannot continue to pay them less than what they can expect almost anywhere else.
“The Minister must ensure that everything is being done to encourage our nurses to stay here to work. She can start by ensuring they are being paid the same as their colleagues in Britain.”