Aontú Newry & Armagh Candidate Martin Kelly stated:

“The experiences of healthcare workers reveal the harrowing personal toll on families as a result of chronic underfunding of the health service in the north. The trade union Unison have voted in support of strike action after eight months of pay talks with the Department of Health broke down without agreement.

“Nurses and paramedics, senior nursing staff, healthcare assistants, administrative workers, porters and cleaners in the north earn lower than their counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales. The deficit faced by local nurses and paramedics in their annual pay rate is at almost £1,500.

“Responsibility for averting this situation lies with the Department of Health, the head of the civil service and the Department of Finance.

“The health system in the north is currently at breaking point along with multiple departments crying out for funding. It must be provided to ensure safe staffing levels as a matter of urgency.”