MLA backs striking staff

Health workers pictured during the 24 hour strike held on Wednesday outside Altnagelvin Hospital. (0710PG20)
Health workers pictured during the 24 hour strike held on Wednesday outside Altnagelvin Hospital. (0710PG20)

A Derry MLA says that striking health care workers who took to the picket lines this week deserve public support.

SDLP health spokesperson Mark H Durkan says the workers, members of the Unison trade union, were face with little option but to take industrial action.

“The fact that this is the first strike for 30 years shows the gravity of the situation facing our health service,” he says.

Staff at Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital took to the picket line on Wednesday as part of the 24-hour industrial action.

Ann Donnelly from Unison says the action is in direct protest to cuts to front line services.

“We are out because of cuts to our services, cuts that have been horrific in the last number of years.”

The Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) say almost 200 patients were affected by the cancellation of outpatient clinics and surgery sessions while a further 150 patients were affected by not having access to other procedures.

Health minister Edwin Poots says Wednesday’s action was both “avoidable and unnecessary.”

But Mr Durkan says those involved in working on the front line are best placed to judge the “severity of the impact” cuts will have on the “vulnerable and ill.”

“We must always remember that this strike is more about improving the conditions for patients not the conditions for workers.”

He says those workers can not be undervalued or undermined.

“The value of their judgment and concern cannot be undervalued in any way,” he says.