Junior doctors in Northern Ireland announce more strike dates

by Ben Ireland

Further rounds of industrial action planned after talks with health minister break down

Location: Northern Ireland
Published: Thursday 2 May 2024
NI strike March 6 - 3

Junior doctors in Northern Ireland have announced further strike action after pay talks with the devolved Department of Health broke down.

Two 48-hour full walk outs have been planned; from 7am on Wednesday 22 May to 7am on Friday 24 May, and from 7am on Thursday 6 June to 7am on Saturday 8 June.

The Northern Ireland junior doctors committee says there has been no progress on its key asks, despite ‘some progress on non-pay issues’ since a meeting with Northern Ireland’s health minister Robin Swann after the first round of industrial action that took place in March.

NIJDC chair Fiona Griffin said: 'This has left us with no choice but to escalate our strike action.

'We are very disappointed that we have not been able to make any progress, but we must act on behalf of our members who voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking strike action for full pay restoration.'

Dr Griffin added: 'Doctors can see their colleagues elsewhere in the UK and in other jurisdictions getting better pay and conditions for less pressurised workloads. This, along with years of below inflation or non-existent pay uplifts, the latest of which for the 2023/24 financial year has still yet to be paid, further adds to the reality that the key role junior doctors have in the health service is simply not valued.'

GRIFFIN: Role of juniors not valued GRIFFIN: Role of juniors not valued

The Ulster Unionist Party executive minister Robin Swann has warned of 'incredibly serious consequences' of the Stormont government’s latest health budget, expected to be voted through on Thursday 2 May, which would provide 'precisely no additional targeted resources for waiting list activity' – and that the situation could affect pay settlements.

It comes as consultants in Northern Ireland prepare to ballot for industrial action, and a majority of SAS doctors in Northern Ireland who voted in an indicative ballot backing industrial action.

Dr Griffin said: 'The health service cannot function without doctors and they are leaving in growing numbers due to decreasing morale from poor pay and high workloads.

'We have been left with no choice but to take action. If our government wants the health service to survive and retain doctors, then it must act now and prioritise staff pay.'