Junior doctors in Northern Ireland begin 48-hour full walk out over pay

by BMA NI media team

Press release from BMA Northern Ireland

Location: Northern Ireland
Published: Wednesday 22 May 2024
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Today [Wednesday 22 May] junior doctors in Northern Ireland begin the second round of strike action over their pay. 

The 48-hour full walkout - from 7am on Wednesday 22 May to 7am on Friday 24 May - will see doctors withdraw their labour from hospitals and GP surgeries across Northern Ireland in their fight for a fairer pay deal. 

Dr Fiona Griffin, chair of BMA’s Northern Ireland junior doctors committee, said: “We did not want to have to escalate industrial action, but our key ask around pay, including a commitment to work towards full pay restoration, was rejected by the Health Minister. This left us with no choice but to escalate our action. 

“The health service cannot function without junior doctors. Yet more and more of us are leaving or contemplating leaving the health service to work elsewhere for better pay and working conditions, and where the complex and skilled work we undertake is properly rewarded. These are doctors with up to 15 years experience and the fact that this is being allowed to happen amidst a waiting list crisis that is the worst in the UK is unfathomable and unforgiveable. We must make stand now on behalf of the workforce and our patients, before it is too late.” 

Dr Griffin called on the Health Minister again to meaningfully address junior doctors’ pay asks. 

“We have now met with the Minister, but there was absolutely no movement from him in terms of our asks around pay. Our mandate is for better pay for junior doctors but it is clear that improving pay for junior doctors is not a priority. Contract reform while welcome is not addressing the core issue. Paying us what the DDRB recommended last year is the minimum that they can do, and it is also lamentable that it has not yet been paid, a full year after the recommendation was made.  

“Other nations are discussing pay and a commitment to full pay restoration, so there is a willingness elsewhere to address this.  

"This strike and the next one in June do not need to happen. It can be called off today if a credible offer was put forward that included steps towards full pay restoration.”    

Junior doctors – who range from being newly qualified doctors earning less than £13 per-hour to experienced surgeons, oncologists and cardiologists earning £30 per-hour - held their first walkout on 06 March after an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote (97.6%) was returned in favour of industrial action for full pay restoration*.  

The latest strike escalation – the first of two 48-hour full walkouts with the second taking place in June - was announced after pay talks with officials from the Department of Health failed to reach agreement on progressing towards full pay restoration for junior doctors**. Junior doctors pay has eroded by over 30% in Northern Ireland since 2008***. 

 

 

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