SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has urged people to attend their local trust meeting next month, to address the current nurses’ pay crisis and subsequent threat to public safety.
Hosted by the Royal College of Nursing between 6th-13th May, these events hope to engage and inform the wider public on how this crisis has negatively impacted the safe and effective delivery of care for patients.
The Foyle MLA said: “These public meetings are essentially a call to action – an opportunity to inform people about the crisis in nurses’ pay and the shocking reality that our health service is currently operating under a 12% shortfall in the workforce.
“There is no doubt, that this shortfall has exacerbated existent issues including lengthy waiting lists and difficulties accessing services.
“Our agency bill stands at a staggering all-time high of £32 million; money which would be better invested in our nursing staff whose pay continues to lag far behind their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.
“As pressure on acute services in our hospitals increases and as hard pressed staff are asked to deliver better results with fewer resources, it is outrageous that their selfless passion continues to be punished with a bad deal.
“Our health workers constantly go above and beyond the call of duty, working themselves to the point of exhaustion to cover the ever growing number of gaps in the service.
“It is not hard to conclude that this is a factor in the difficulty that we are having recruiting staff to the health service.”
He added: “This issue has been allowed to escalate to the point of crisis and has now spiralled into a public safety concern- that is entirely unacceptable.
“The health and well-being of the public as well as the health and well-being of our nurses, must be protected at all costs.
“We must demand better for a workforce who have dedicated their lives to the invaluable task of caring for others.
“They deserve better than political paralysis and stagnant pay packets.”