Political failure has led to situation where paramedics in Northern Ireland are paid eight thousand pounds less a year than those in England and Wales
No guarantees that proposals to recruit additional 300 paramedics to meet 50% surge in demand will go anywhere in absence of locally-accountable Ministers
September 27th: Unite Lead officer for Health Kevin McAdam has welcomed proposals that would see the possible recruitment of an additional three hundred paramedics but expressed his fear that this would be insufficient to address the mounting challenges faced by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service due to the widening pay gap with other UK nations.
“Figures confirm that the number of calls for ambulances has leapt by 50% in the last five years. It is imperative that better ways to handle this increased volume are brought forward by the Department of Health as the current system is now at breaking point.
“Unite therefore welcomes the potentially radical proposals that are coming forward for consultation but we warn that they will not be sufficient to address the problems we face unless immediate action is forthcoming on the yawning chasm between the pay of paramedics in Northern Ireland and that in the rest of the United Kingdom.
“Due to the absence of a locally-accountable Minister, proposals to upgrade paramedics from Band 5 to Band 6 on the pay scale remain shelved. That means paramedics in Northern Ireland remain at grade five of the pay scale whereas those doing the exact same work in England, Scotland and Wales are all paid at grade six. Given the fact that NHS workers in Northern Ireland are already paid less than those doing the same work elsewhere in the UK, this means that a paramedic here can only earn £28,462 compared to £36,644 in England and Wales and £37,010.
“That’s more than an eight thousand pound differential for the exact same work. Is it any wonder we are facing a recruitment crisis in the Northern Ireland healthcare system? Unless this pay differential is addressed any other changes to the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, even including plans to recruit an additional three hundred paramedics, are doomed to failure.
“The Department of Health tells us that they can’t make this or other decisions in the absence of a locally-accountable Minister and there is no certainty that even these proposals will go anywhere after the three-month public consultation ends. On its seventieth anniversary, our NHS faces being the collateral damage from the political failure of the Stormont parties”, Mr McAdam said.