‘Deflated and gutted’ nurses took to the picket line at Omagh Hospital as the phase of industrial action rumbles on.
RCN nurses were supported by passing motorists and members of the public as they stood at the gates of Omagh Hospital for the second time within a month.
The nurses have taken industrial action to demand that measures be taken to address unsafe staffing levels and to deliver pay parity. They went on strike again today (Friday) when they were joined by Unison members.
One specialist nurse, who wished not to be named, said it was a “tough day” but nurses deserve improved pay.
“I am gutted, completely deflated. I am nearly 25 years in nursing, and we tend to keep going but why should we not have pay parity? During the first day everyone was in high spirits, but coming out today, I am deflated and I think we all feel the same.
“We are doing this is for the future and to give us the chance to keep nurses. We need to attract our young people and keep them in the area. I have a neighbour who is just starting out in her nursing and I told her we are doing this for you.”
Ahead of the strike, the Department of Health urged trade unions to return to talks while chief executives of the five Health Trusts asked for a postponement of the strike.
RCN states that since 2014, nurses in the North have been paid less than in England, Scotland and Wales, making it even more difficult to recruit new nursing staff and retain the nurses already working.
Dennis Greer, who works at Omagh Hospital, said the care patients receive is the priority for workers, but teams are struggling. “I have never seen morale so low.
Some of us have to do two jobs to try and get our mortgages paid. Since 2010 my salary has not changed. We are doing this for our patients because we need a safe working environment for them.
“We need to attract fresh blood into the profession, and we are not doing that because they are looking at what they will be paid. The public has given us fantastic support and we do appreciate it.”
Healthcare worker Kathryn Gault added that she is disappointed that nurses have had to strike again. “I am over 30 years in nursing and I honestly never thought we would have to take strike action.
“My pay has not improved since 2010. I worked on the wards and I was constantly on the go because you wanted your patients to be safe and get all the work done. There have been no improvements.”