'Breakthrough' £30m Pay Offer For Health Unions

A 'breakthrough' offer for salary parity has been tabled to health unions in Northern Ireland, the Health Minister has confirmed.

Robin Swann said the offer comes after some very difficult days for local health services as he set out the terms to the newly formed Assembly. The former UUP Leader made salary parity with England one of his first moves as local Health Minister following the restoration of powersharing.

With effect from the 01 April 2019, pay parity is expected to cost £109 million. The Department has assembled around £79 million, meaning an additional £30 million is required to meet the cost of pay parity with England for 2019/20.

Mr Swann informed the Northern Ireland Assembly of his plans to formally submit the new pay offer to health unions this afternoon.

It comes after local nurses took to the picket lines for the first time ever in December, with two further strike days carried out last week and ballots for escalated action ongoing.
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Pay parity, together with safe staffing, are the main causes of the current dispute. Trade unions had previously rejected two formal offers by the Department of Health as they fell short of resolving parity with the rest of the UK.

Recent industrial action caused the cancellation of thousands of outpatient and elective appointments across Northern Ireland.

"This new offer will reinstate pay parity with England, and not just for this year," the Health Minister told the Assembly.

"The breakthrough that we all wanted has been achieved. This is a good day after some very difficult days."

A costed implementation plan for safe staffing levels is also being developed between the DoH and health unions.

Mr Swann added: "The component parts are now in place to settle the industrial dispute. Our nurses and other great health and social care workers can come off the picket line and get back to the job they love and do so well."

The additional funds will have implications for the budget in future years and did not come from additional money offered to Northern Ireland by the government.

Health unions plan to carefully assess the pay offer and are set to meet with Executive Ministers this afternoon.


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