SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath and South Belfast MP Claire Hanna met with representatives of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on Thursday.
The SDLP met with RCN to discuss their concerns ahead of planned strike action later this month.
Mr McGrath said it was regrettable that health staff had been forced to strike, but said they needed to be paid fairly and steps taken to ensure safe conditions for both patients and staff.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“At our meeting today we assured RCN that the SDLP stands fully behind them and all of our health staff as they continue their fight for fair pay and safe working conditions. Staff should never have been placed in this position in the first place but given the continued refusal to adequately address their concerns, many of which stretch back years, I fail to see what other option they have.
“Every single time I talk to or meet with our health staff it shines through just how much they care about our health service and every single patient that passes through it. Many staff are devastated that the situation has once again been allowed to progress to this point, but they remain determined to do whatever’s necessary to get guarantees around safe staffing levels, opportunities for career progression and to ensure that no health worker is expected to look after others while being paid a wage that isn’t enough for them to look after themselves and their families.
“The solution to this situation is obvious and the last thing our nurses and health staff need is to have to listen to lectures from a Tory government that has gutted the health service and ignored their plight for far too long. The DUP’s boycott undoubtedly makes this situation harder to resolve, they have proved they don’t care about the situation in our health service, as they don’t about families struggling dealing with the cost of living emergency. The onus is now on the British government to address the concerns of nurses in the North and across Britain and put serious proposals on the table that will avert this strike action and allow our health staff to get back to doing what they do best – caring for people.”