The Department will be holding further detailed discussions with the RCN and other trade unions on Friday. Dialogue remains the only way forward.
With a NI public sector pay policy now in place for 2019/2020, we plan to table a formal pay offer as soon as possible.
The budgetary pressures across health and social care are clear for all to see. Despite claims to the contrary, there is no separate or untapped source of funding for pay increases. It all comes out of the one health budget. Every pound spent on one priority area is a pound not available for another.
We fully accept that staff in health and social care feel deeply frustrated. However, trade unions are making demands they know the Department cannot meet. Industrial action this winter can only exacerbate an already very difficult situation.
Notes to editors:
1. The RCN and other unions are planning industrial action based on a demand for pay parity with GB. The decision to adopt localised NI pay rates for health staff under the Agenda for Change framework was taken under devolution and it is not for civil servants to overturn previous Ministerial decisions. In the absence of Ministers, the Department also does not have the authority to cut services to fund the pay increase being sought.
2. A pay award for 2019/2020 for health and social care staff will be backdated to the beginning of April 2019.
3. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or email email@example.com. For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.
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