HEALTH services in Mid Ulster are set to be hit with a staffing crisis in the coming weeks after health care workers and nurses voted to go on strike.
Members of Unison have followed nurses in the Royal College of Nursing in voting for strike action.
Unison represents about 25,000 healthcare workers in Northern Ireland including nurses, social care staff and support services.
Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Northern Ireland voted for strike action for the first time in the history of the organisation. RCN members are to go on strike on December 18.
The results of the RCN ballot showed 96% of those members who returned their ballot papers voted to take industrial action short of a strike, and 92% voted for strike action.
In the wake of the ballot by the RCN East Derry SDLP MLA John Dallat said “the nursing profession has been so badly treated it defies comprehension”.
“It has always been a question of how much more can nurses take before taking the ultimate sanction to strike,” he said.
“The decision by the Royal College of Nursing is unprecedented in the history of their members and it should set the alarm bells ringing loudly because these people are at breaking point and beyond. It is a reflection of the political stagnation, the disregard for ordinary people working in the front line of health and above all it reflects the appalling policies imposed by a ruthless Tory government propped up by the DUP.
“How the health service operates with a shortfall of 3,000 unfilled places in the nursing profession is unreal. How on earth can a better service be delivered while the health service is operating under a 12% shortfall in the workforce defies logic.
“In East Derry, every day nurses are dedicating their lives to others whether they are in hospitals, residential homes, health centres or being cared for in the community and for the first time in 103 years they have been left with no option but to resort to strike. That is sad and incredibly unnecessary if their pleas were being listened to.
“We can only hope that the forthcoming election brings a change of government in Britain and a new commitment to establishing an assembly which focuses on the needs of people rather than selfish demands of political parties that no longer fight for people’s rights but set out to deny them with no regard for the special circumstances in which this part of Ireland needs to be governed."
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