Northern Ireland

Belfast Health Trust thanks staff for efforts during ‘very difficult’ day of strike action

The chief executive of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has praised staff for their efforts on “a very difficult day” during the strike action on Thursday.

In a message to healthcare workers, Dr Cathy Jack also said employers were “deeply saddened that you have felt that your only option is to take industrial action”.

Healthcare employees were among more than 100,000 public sector workers to take part in the day of strike action, bringing disruption across health services.

In her statement, Dr Jack acknowledged the rights of staff to take “lawful industrial action”, adding she wanted to thank them for “everything you have done and continue to do” in what she described as “an extremely challenging winter so far”.

 Dr Cathy Jack, chief executive of the Belfast Health Trust, told a Stormont committee the military staff will work under trust management.
Dr Cathy Jack, chief executive of the Belfast Health Trust

“Yesterday (Thursday) was a very difficult day for us all given the disruption to public services on a scale not previously witnessed, coupled with school closures, the absence of public transport and the very poor weather conditions,” she said.

“At the outset, I wish to acknowledge your right to take lawful industrial action and I fully understand your reasons for doing so.

“I thank you, your managers and trade union colleagues who worked closely together to ensure that care and services remained available to those who needed it most during yesterday’s industrial action.

“While significant preparations were made across this Trust and all other HSC organisations for the industrial action, I am very conscious of the severe pressure that you work under day and daily.

“I want you to know that I recognise that every day is very challenging for you and our patients and service users.”

Dr Jack also acknowledged that staff “may have concerns about working under such unrelenting pressure, and that you and your teams may, on occasion, need to depart from established procedures to provide the best care”.

“I know that you do your best in these very challenging circumstances and I want you to know that you have my support and that of executive team in this endeavour,” she said.

She added that the chief executives of the health trusts have “repeatedly and publicly” called for a long-term funding settlement for health and social care to tackle waiting lists, recruitment and pay.

“We will continue to make these calls,” she said.