Due to local political failure, Northern Ireland is now only UK region where NHS workers are still denied a budgeted one percent pay increase
Question asked why Department of Health cannot make decision to raise pay but has no difficulties in taking strategic decisions to ration services
November 30th: Kevin McAdam, Unite Industrial officer with responsibility for the health sector questioned the rationale behind a Department of Health statement that it would be unable to distribute a budgeted £26 million for a one percent pay increase due to the absence of Minister:
“Unite, alongside the other health unions, is campaigning for NHS workers to receive a significant uplift in their pay after a decade of below inflation pay increases and pay freezes. That must mean the removal of the one percent pay cap which was imposed by the Tories across the UK in order to make public sector workers pay the price for the banking crisis.
“While the UK government has indicated some willingness to deliver a pay increase breaking the miserly one percent cap in future years, Northern Ireland healthcare workers have yet to receive the one percent they’ve been due since April 2017. What’s worse the Department of Health now admits us that while they’ve received £26 million for this increment they claim to be unable to administer it in the absence of Minister.
“Northern Ireland’s healthcare workers are already the lowest paid in the entire UK. They are now being asked to pay the price of local political failure because of a questionable determination issued by the Health Department.
“How it is that the Permanent Secretary, Richard Pengelly, claims he doesn’t have the powers to make this decision, but the absence of a Minister hasn’t stopped him bringing forward other strategic decisions to ration NHS services?” Mr McAdam asked.
Turning to the impact low pay was having on Northern Ireland’s NHS, he added,
“Northern Ireland’s Health & Social Care system is paying the price for low pay as more and more skilled and experienced healthcare professionals are leaving, many to other parts of the UK. The result has been a service squeezed of resources where workers are pushed to breaking point. The service is surviving only through the exploitation of the workforce’s commitment to the public. This situation cannot continue. At the least all workers must receive the one percent pay increase – meagre as it is – backdated to April with immediate effect”, Mr McAdam finished.