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Health workers join forces on the picket line at SWAH

Nurses and health workers across all boards at SWAH joined forces on the picket line in a third stage of strike action over pay parity and staffing issues. 
Despite the Department of Health urging unions to “defer industrial action” members of the RCN and Unison branches at SWAH came together “for the sake of patient safety and well-being.” 
Speaking in relation to comments made by the DoH to prevent strike action, diabetes nursing specialist, Mairead McClintock told the Herald, “First and foremost this strike is about safe staffing and being able to look after people in an effective way. It’s extremely frustrating and we’ve been warning those in power about this ongoing crisis for the last 10 years, this just hasn’t happened overnight. 
“Nobody has listened to us an it’s really unfortunate that it has had to come to this as we’d much rather be inside, doing our job and looking after patients.” 
Anna-Maria Maguire has been a nurse for 32 years and insists that circumstances have “never been as bad” having first hand experience of the pressures that has led to a broken health system. She said, “This is our third time out at the picket line, and it is an absolute disgrace. We’re here to ensure that there is safe and effective care for our patients, everything we do is for them and the support we have received from the public is incredible. We are wokring in a very stressed environemnt and we deserve more. Our priority is to ensure safe wards for patients and to get pay parity with our colleagues across the water.”
Discussions broke down before Christmas after a new 3.1% pay offer was rejected by unions, however future resolutions seem “hopeful” since political parties re-entered Stormont, after three years of no Assembly. Speaking on the health crisis and what needs to be done, RCN member Ursula Barrett said, “The current health crisis will remain until there is sufficient funding to recruit and retain for better staffing levels and better patient care.
“While we had no Storming, pressures increased and for the first time in 103 years, the RCN were forced to take the decision to strike. We are advocates for our patients and we need to have our voices heard, and we will continue this until there is a deal on the table that is acceptable for the RCN and our colleagues that work in the HSC.”
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