Chief Executives of the Health and Social Care Trusts in the North have warned that the two strike days planned in the space of 72 hours this week could push the system ‘beyond tipping point’.
RCN and Unison nurses will return to the picket line at Omagh Hospital tomorrow (Wednesday) from 8am to 4pm and another day of action is planned to take place on Friday, but Trust bosses have urged unions to postpone the strike action saying ‘patient safety will be compromised as never before’.
Despite this, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Unison said they were committed to strike, and said that the public was firmly behind them.
Before Christmas, healthcare workers including RCN nurses and members of Unison, NISA and Unite took to the picket line at Omagh Hospital as they protested over pay parity and ‘unsafe’ staffing levels.
This was the first time in the 103-year history of the RCN union that members have voted to take such action with many health care workers saying it was a ‘last resort’.
Commenting on the strike action, UNISON Head of Bargaining and Representation, Anne Speed said, “UNISON does not intend to postpone our industrial action. Patient safety has been a primary consideration throughout our members’ industrial action and remains so.
“The crisis in our health service caused by over 7000 vacant posts and the absence of a strategic investment and planning on staffing is one of the two core reasons for this dispute.”
In a stark statement, the health trust heads have warned that tomorrow’s strike action will have a much more serious consequences than December 18, and have asked for the action to postponed.
“Our health and care service is already under considerable strain with severe winter pressures over the Christmas and New Year period. These pressures continue to build and are particularly intense today. As of 10.15am today, January 7 there were 217 patients in the emergency departments of Northern Ireland’s acute hospitals waiting over 12 hours and 456 over the last 24 hour period.
“With two strike days planned in the space of 72 hours this week, there are serious concerns that the system could be pushed beyond the tipping point. This could mean that patient safety will be compromised as never before. Whilst we continue to support our staff and are respectful of their right to take action, we would urge a postponement.”
Posted: 5:46 pm January 7, 2020