UNISON Northern Ireland


The UNISON Northern Ireland Nursing Forum at its most recent meeting has pledged to continue to speak out and support our nursing family members.  Forum Chair Nurse Alan Philson stressed "members are not only coping with immediate pressures from the latest covid surge but we are also bearing the brunt of underfunding mismanagement and absence of workforce, palling over a number of years".

UNISON reps from registrants working in theatres, in ICU, on wards and in the community were joined by Senior Nursing Assistants in delivering feedback from members on the front line from within the 5 Health Trusts. They also shared their personal testimonies of the relentless demands and challenges they face every day.

Deep anger and frustration were expressed at the growing reliance on private for profit nursing agencies.  UNISON reps describe this as privatisation of nursing by the back door in the HSC.  Use of these agencies is leading to a two-tier nursing workforce.

UNISON is determined to defend public services and is determined to fight for the release of the huge spend off contract agencies. We are demanding the redirection of those millions back into improvements in pay for our members. Immediate remedial steps could now be activated by raising the bank incentive and closing the gap between the extortionate rates paid to agencies. We want more support to stabilise the workforce and assist the creation of a safer and healthier working environment.

Forum reps in each Trust are bringing a number of key concerns to the Trusts CNOs.

Safe staffing and flexible working and shift assignments are issues right at the top of our agenda along with safe and balanced ratios of staff in each ward and workplace setting. We will bring the direct experience of the HSC nursing family where they are relied upon to support agency staff operating in unfamiliar settings. We will contest extended periods of blocking booking of off contract agency nursing which has become almost a guarantee of future employment in the private sector paid for by public money. We will require the HSC Nursing leadership and their Trust counterparts to plan for flexible working in line with commitments to be delivered by UK NHS employers. 

The Forum also intends to add more evidence as to what our nursing family is seeking by adding more testimonies and further evidence to the existing UK Nursing Survey.

If you are a member in NURSING and want to join our UNISON Nurses Forum get in touch:
Contact: unisonnorthernireland@unison.co.uk