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Nurses set to go on strike on 18 December

The walkout is expected to last for 12 hours. Credit: UTV

Nurses will hold a strike on 18 December, the Royal College of Nursing has said.

The walkout is expected to last for 12 hours and comes in a row over pay and staffing levels.

Three days of industrial action, such as not working overtime or answering telephones, are also scheduled for next month and further protest is scheduled for next year.

Pat Cullen, director of the RCN in Northern Ireland, said: "Nurses are very disappointed that there has been no further meaningful engagement with the Department of Health regarding the safe staffing and pay crisis that we are facing in Northern Ireland.

"RCN Council has now approved a schedule of industrial action and strike action. Regrettably this will begin before the Christmas period."

She said her members had been left with no choice and would provide further details about the impact on services closer to the time.

More than 8,000 RCN members were balloted and the response rate was 43%.

The RCN said 96% of those members who returned their ballot papers voted to take industrial action and 92% voted to take strike action.

The first day of industrial action will be Tuesday 3 December. Industrial action, short of strike action, will include declining to do any task that is not patient-specific.

The action comes amid a dispute with Health and Social Care management in NI over pay rates and staff shortages.

The Department of Health has previously said the budgetary pressures across health and social care were clear for all to see.