NI nurses forced to pay money back to NHS – despite pay rise

Hundreds of nurses in Northern Ireland who are part of a pay awards scheme are now facing the reality of paying money back to the NHS, as reported by the BBC

After receiving a pay rise, hundreds of nurses in Northern Ireland are having to pay money back to the NHS.

A new pay award scheme was implemented by the Department of Health (DoH) for Health and Social Care (HSC) employees last month.

However, this put 787 workers in a higher pension bracket, meaning that they actually take home less money than before.

A nurse told BBC News NI: “It’s grossly unfair. We didn’t fight this long for a pay rise to end up being out of pocket.

“It makes you feel so undervalued, like nobody really cares at all.

“The pressure on staff is in the health care system in Northern Ireland is ridiculous at the minute yet here we are with even less money at the end of the month.”

The issue means that these 787 nurses will actually take home £240 less this month.

“I worked all over Christmas, hardly saw my family or friends, and I work long hours, trying to do my job the best I can for the patients and now I’m hit with a bill for £240 to be taken from my salary this month. How is that fair?

“It’s hard enough to attract people to nursing because of how much pressure staff are under and this could well push good nurses away completely.”

The deal was, according to acting deputy director of the Royal College of Nursing in Northern Ireland, Rita Devlin, not agreed by the trade union.

“We already have a high vacancy rate in Northern Ireland with nearly 2,000 posts in the HSC alone unfilled,” she said.

“We can ill afford to lose any more of our highly trained nurses. We would urge the DoH to ensure that we are not in the same position this time next year.”

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A spokesperson for the DoH, however, responded: “There was significant communication directly with staff and with trade unions on this issue.

“Mitigation arrangements have been made available for any staff member whose backdated pay increase does not cover backdated pension contribution arrears. Any such deficit can be paid through wage deductions over a period of up to 12 months.”

The department states that there are seven different contribution rates, based on seven earnings brackets, meaning that “the more a staff member earns, the higher their contribution rate may be”.

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