He said: “Not only does the absence of an Executive here jeopardise a potential payrise for nurses across the North at risk, it has already prevented them from getting a previously approved pay award.
“A 1% payrise announced before the Assembly election in March by the then Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill, has never materialised into nurse’s paypackets here because it now apparently needs ministerial sign-off.
“I have previously asked the Permanent Secretary how the Department for Health is able to make cuts in the absence of a minister yet claims powerlessness to implement positive changes such as recognising and rewarding our over-stretched nursing workforce.
“There was already a pay gap between nurses here and those in England,Scotland and Wales. Now, directly as a result of us not having a minister,that gap is growing.
“This is completely unacceptable at anytime but especially given the workforce issues that we have here presently and their impact on the delivery of care to those in need.
“Nurses are the backbone of our Health Service. In real terms their pay has reduced by 14% in the past 8 years.
“We have seen the cap scrapped and now we need the gap closed,this will help attract and retain more nurses.
“The current situation where are nurses are overworked and underpaid cannot continue,” added the Foyle MLA.