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The nurses who won’t feel the benefit of three-year pay deal uplift

Northern Ireland salaries slipping further behind rest of the UK, RCN warns

Northern Ireland salaries slipping further behind rest of the UK, RCN warns


Picture: Alamy

The pay gap between nurses in Northern Ireland and those in the rest of the UK is getting worse and could affect patient safety, the RCN has warned.

The second-year uplift in a three-year pay deal for NHS nurses in England, Wales and Scotland took effect on April 1, but there is still no pay award agreed for 2019-2020 in Northern Ireland.

Pay gap increase

This leaves a significant disparity between salaries for nurses in Northern Ireland and those across the rest of the UK, with existing pay gaps likely to grow further.

Compared to nurses in the rest of the UK, a newly qualified band 5 nurse in Northern Ireland will earn £1,875 less than their highest-earning counterpart, while an experienced specialist nurse at the top of band 7 will earn £2,072 less than their equivalant.

The Department of Health (DoH) in Northern Ireland implemented a backdated 2018-19 pay award for health and social care staff in February. It has meant a rise of about 1.5% for most nurses, except those at the top or bottom of their bands.

How much less do nurses in Northern Ireland earn?

  • A newly qualified band 5 nurse earns £22,795 a year, compared with £24,214 in England and Wales and £24,670 in Scotland
  • An experienced nurse at the top of band 5 will earn £29,315, compared with £30,112 in England and Wales and £30,742 in Scotland
  • An experienced specialist nurse at the top of band 7 will earn £42,616, compared with £43,772 in England and Wales and £44,688 in Scotland

 

Janice Smyth
RCN Northern Ireland director ​​​Janice
Smyth. Picture: Barney Newman

‘Affecting safe patient care’

RCN Northern Ireland director Janice Smyth said while 1 April signalled a new financial year for nurses in England, Wales and Scotland, with ‘a new pay uplift and a number of other benefits’, in Northern Ireland pay had become ‘a public safety issue’.

‘The health service in Northern Ireland is short of 2,103 registered nurses, around 12% of the total workforce,’ Ms Smyth said. ‘The RCN believes that pay has now become a matter of public interest and a public safety issue, as nurses are raising their concerns that staff shortages are affecting their ability to provide safe and effective care for patients.’

The DoH was approached for comment.


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