Today’s recommendation from the DDRB of a 3% pay uplift for doctors begins the process of recognising the huge contribution doctors have made to the pandemic effort. However, it is insufficient in terms of addressing the long-term pay erosion doctors have faced over the last decade.
Many doctors will be disappointed that more is not being done to address the issue of pay erosion in Northern Ireland and will feel today’s announcement falls short of adequately rewarding doctors who are currently trying to catch up on elective work and prepare for further Covid surges
We cannot afford to lose doctors from our health service. We will never address our dreadful waiting lists or be able to cope with further Covid surges unless we retain the doctors that we have, both those established in their career and those starting their career. The ongoing pay erosion and punitive pension rules are key drivers in doctors assessing whether they want to continue working and if we do not ensure there is pay parity with colleagues elsewhere then we risk losing doctors.
Over the past 18 months doctors have been on the frontline treating those affected by covid but have also been doing their best in extremely challenging circumstances to maintain a health service for everyone in Northern Ireland. However, it is clear that many doctors are now feeling exhausted and are considering their long-term future in medicine and whether they want to work additional hours to deal with Covid surges.
In a recent survey of BMA members in Northern Ireland nearly half said they did not feel valued as a doctor and their passion for working in the health service had decreased. Half also said they planned to work fewer hours after the pandemic and 44% said they planned to retire early. This would put our health system under even more pressure.
We would urge the health minister to ensure that the pay award is made promptly as to date there has been an unacceptably long delay
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.