SoR members in Northern Ireland vote to accept pay offer for HSC staff

73% of SoR respondents voted to accept the 2023-2024 pay award.

Published: 22 March 2024 Trade Union & IR

Following negotiations with Minister Robin Swann and Department of Health officials, an offer for the 2023-2024 pay award was put forward to HSC staff.

The pay offer includes a consolidated 5% uplift and a lump sum payment of £1505. A consultation was held to survey SoR members' opinion on this offer from Friday 1st March to Thursday 21st March 2024 where 73% of respondents voted to accept it.

Cora Regan, SoR national officer for Northern Ireland, said: "Almost three-quarters of SoR respondents said that they were willing to accept the current offer. Make no mistake: this response does not reflect genuine enthusiasm for the offer, nor does it suggest that it meets the needs of our members in Northern Ireland. However, now, as we start the 2024-25 pay review, our members will at least be at the same starting point as their colleagues in England.

Radiography professionals support nine out of 10 patients in Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland. They work in diagnostic services, carrying out X-rays, MRI and CT scans, and in therapeutic services, planning and delivering radiotherapy to cancer patients.

But HSC is struggling to recruit and retain radiographers. Radiography department vacancy rates are between 13 per cent and 23 per cent in Northern Ireland’s hospitals. Even with this new pay offer, our members will be paid considerably less than radiographers in the Republic of Ireland, where the starting salary for a Band 5 radiographer will still be more than £5,000 higher than in Northern Ireland. If radiography professionals living near the border can work in a hospital 20 minutes’ drive away and earn £5,000 more, why would they choose to work in Northern Ireland?

As a result of the shortage of radiographers, 188,850 people in Northern Ireland – nearly 10 per cent of the population – are now waiting for a diagnostic test. Of these, almost two-thirds – 60 per cent – were waiting more than nine weeks for a test. And a shocking 32 per cent – one in three – were waiting more than six months for a test.

This wait means that treatment such as radiotherapy is delayed and cases become more complex. For some patients, even a two-week delay – let alone six months – can mean the difference between life and death.

Radiographers need more than a pay offer that is too little, too late. We need long-term budget planning for health – with a priority on investing in workforce recruitment and retention. Only then will we have an offer that is worth accepting with genuine enthusiasm.

Our members deserve better. Our patients deserve better."