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Belated pay offer revealed for nurses in Northern Ireland

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Northern Irish nurses at the top of their bands can expect to receive a 1% one-off payment, under a long-awaited offer from the government.

Northern Ireland health minister Simon Hamilton set out the 2015-16 pay award for health and social care staff, noting the “extremely constrained financial position” facing the country.

“I wish to reward staff as far as possible within the current financial constraints”

Simon Hamilton

Under the deal, he said Agenda for Change staff at the top of their pay bands would receive a 1% non-consolidated payment – an average of almost £300 each and up to maximum of £985.

This translates as £279 for band 5 nurses and £345 for those at band 6, under the offer, which comes months after deals for nurses and NHS staff in the remainder of the UK.

Meanwhile, staff not at the top of their pay bands will receive an average spine point rise of 3.7%, equating to £1,588 and up to a maximum of £4,509.

But Mr Hamilton went on to attack union negotiators in a strongly worded statement accompanying the details of the new pay offer, which follows a public ramping up of pressure from the Royal College of Nursing, in particular.

He said: “I would have preferred an agreed settlement, but when I met recently with trade union representatives they unfortunately remained unwilling to move beyond seeking to reopen last year’s settlement – despite it having being paid into people’s accounts many months ago and with their union colleagues across the water having moved ahead and focused on 2015-16.

“My officials sought to engage with local union leaders on a 2015-16 settlement since 4 January last year,” he said. “More than a year later I am not prepared to keep our staff waiting any longer.”

He claimed union pay demands “would cost my department’s budget close to £40m and are simply unaffordable in current circumstances”.

Mr Hamilton added: “I have made it clear that my priority is the delivery of high quality safe and effective services for patients and clients. I want to put patients first.

“I value the hard work and commitment of all health and social care staff and wish to reward staff as far as possible within the current financial constraints,” he said. “I believe a pay award which gives staff at least a 1% increase represents a fair deal for health and social care workers.”

The RCN recently announced it would be balloting its members in Northern Ireland over industrial action, short of a strike, over the previous lack of a pay offer.

Following the government’s proposals on Friday, the RCN said it would be meeting today “in order to consider the tone and content of the minister’s statement”.

The meeting will “determine the next steps” for the RCN’s pay campaign, the college said in a short statement.

Details of 1% non-consolidated payments  
 Band 1  £150
 Band 2  £174
 Band 3  £193
 Band 4  £220
 Band 5  £279
 Band 6  £345
 Band 7  £406
 Band 8a  £471
 Band 8b  £565
 Band 8c  £678
 Band 8d  £816
 Band 9  £985
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