NI junior doctors hold Stormont rally as third strike over pay begins

by BMA Northern Ireland media team

Press release from BMA Northern Ireland.

Location: Northern Ireland
Published: Thursday 6 June 2024
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Hundreds of junior doctors are set to gather at Stormont today [Thursday 06 June] in a rally calling for urgent action to reverse years of below inflation pay rises.

The rally takes place on the first day of the latest 48-hour full walkout of junior doctors that will see them withdraw their labour from hospitals and GP surgeries across the country from 7am today (Thursday 06 June) to 7am Saturday 08 June in their ongoing fight for a pay deal.

Speaking ahead of today's rally, Dr Fiona Griffin, chair of BMA’s Northern Ireland junior doctors committee, said: “Today’s rally is about showing those in power that we need urgent action now on our pay asks if they are serious about saving and futureproofing the health service as we know it. We are extremely disappointed that this latest 48-hour walkout could not be averted but there has still not been any progress in our pay negotiations.

“The health service cannot function without junior doctors and yet years of below inflation or non-existent pay awards – and the fact that we have still yet to be paid the minimum DDRB-recommended pay award for the last financial year – is a continual reminder to us that we are simply not valued for the complex and skilled work we undertake. Morale has never been lower and more of us are choosing to leave Northern Ireland to work elsewhere for better pay and conditions.”

Dr Griffin called on the new health minister to act to resolve the dispute with junior doctors.

“The new Health minister needs to seize the opportunity of solving this dispute once and for al by putting forward a credible offer that includes meaningful steps towards full pay restoration.

“We do not want to have to call further strikes but we will be left with no choice but to do so if there is no movement on pay.”

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 second of two 48-hour full walkouts - 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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