Commenting on the decision by the Royal College of Nurses to take industrial action Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill said today:
“The Health and Social Care service’s greatest asset is its staff but workers are underpaid and undervalued.
“Years of Tory austerity cuts to frontline public services, supported by the DUP, and the cap on public sector pay has our health service on its knees.
“The safety of staff and patients alike is being compromised as a result of staff shortages.
“There is a huge hole in health and social care services as a result of pay issues which are affecting recruitment and retention of staff.
“The Department of Health has compounded the difficulties in the health service by treating the workers and their representatives with contempt.
“Nurses now feel that the only way forward to deal with their well-documented grievances is to take industrial action. That is unprecedented.
“I have spoken with the RCN and pledged Sinn Féin’s support for the workers’ efforts to improve safety and their pay and working conditions.
“I am aware that other health and social care workers are also considering strike action and I wish to send solidarity to them as well.
“I am calling on the department to immediately begin a serious engagement with the workers and their unions to address their concerns.
“The incoming British government should reverse its disastrous austerity cuts which have brought our health service to the brink.”