Nurses to be balloted on strike action
NURSES are to be balloted on strike action over staffing numbers and pay for the first time.
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) voted unanimously for the ballot to proceed.
It will start on October 9 and last four weeks.
RCN said there were nearly 3,000 unfilled nursing posts across the system, with a similar level of vacancies estimated in nursing homes.
In addition, pay for nursing staff within the health service, it said, continued to fall behind England, Scotland and Wales.
"The time has come when our members are saying clearly to us that they can no longer continue to work under the current conditions," said Pat Cullen, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland.
"The palpable sense of disillusionment and even anger amongst RCN members in Northern Ireland over staffing and pay continues to grow.
"We all know that nurses in Northern Ireland can go anywhere in the world to work. To date, pay discussions have been unsuccessful and there is now nothing to keep our newly-qualified nurses at home. As a profession, we are no longer prepared to tolerate the risk that low staffing levels pose to patients, nursing staff, and the people of Northern Ireland.
"No nurse that I know would ever want to take industrial action but we have simply been left with no choice – it's a sad day for nursing in Northern IIreland when it has come to this."