Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA has said the unprecedented decision of the RCN to strike demonstrates the scale of the pressure weighing down on the local health service.
Roy Beggs said:
“Nurses are the backbone of our local Health Service. The significance of their overwhelming decision to vote for strike action cannot be overstated.
“Two months ago I revealed that there were a frightening 2,482 nursing posts vacant across Northern Ireland. As a direct result there is a crippling shortage of nurses on hospital wards, in our nursing homes and out in community roles. I’m not surprised at all that the nurses that are in place have taken this decision given the challenges that they're working under.
“Given medical staff in Northern Ireland are signed up to the NHS’s wider UK terms and conditions, the major disparity in pay is also totally unfair.
“The decision to vote for strike action is momentous. Under any normal circumstances this would present a major crisis for a Health Minister, but in the absence of a local Executive this once again illustrates just how badly staff and patients are being failed by the ongoing impasse at Stormont.”