Junior Doctors Protest 25072022 12 Junior Doctors Protest 25072022 12

Pay restoration for junior doctors in Northern Ireland

Junior doctors in Northern Ireland feel undervalued, underpaid, overworked, and lacking in training opportunities that’s why we have decided to ballot members on industrial action.

Ballot for industrial action results

The industrial action ballot of junior doctors working in Northern Ireland results were as follows:

Of those entitled to vote 97.6% voted yes for industrial action. The turnout was 63.7%.

We therefore staged a full walk out from 8am on 6 March 2024 to 8am on 7 March 2024.

“It is clear from this result that junior doctors feel they have no other option but to strike. We owe it to ourselves, our patients and the future of the health service to act. We have had 16 years of pay erosion which now amounts to over 30% loss of pay, yet in this time our workload and burnout levels have risen.

“Coupled with rising inflation this is a huge financial loss for anyone in any profession, but it is causing an acute workforce crisis among junior doctors as many are thinking about leaving Northern Ireland to work elsewhere for better pay and working conditions, where the complex and skilled work we undertake is properly rewarded.”

Dr Fiona Griffin, BMA NIJDC chair

What we're asking for

We are asking the Department of Health, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and our Assembly to do the following: 

Fix pay

This means:

  • An immediate above inflation pay rise for junior doctors in Northern Ireland to stem the workforce crisis. 
  • Full pay restoration for junior doctors in Northern Ireland to 2008 levels. 

Read more on pay erosion to see why we're calling for it.

Fix rotas

Trusts to commit to complying with the BMA fatigue and facilities charter, with a focus on urgent introduction of safe working limits to fix rotas. 

Here's why:

  • Junior doctors in Northern Ireland do not have the same rest protections and rota design requirements as elsewhere in the UK. 49% of trainees in Northern Ireland reported working above their rostered hours – higher than the UK average of 42%. 
  • Exhausting, understaffed rotas impacts on training time required for career development. Significantly more trainees in Northern Ireland (38%) have reported that rota gaps were not being sufficiently dealt with than in the UK as a whole (29%).  
Fix training

Introduction of a trainee guarantee for access to scheduled training, including study leave for F1s. 

Here's why: 

  • Workload pressures are causing the quality of training to deteriorate significantly, particularly for foundation trainees. Almost half (46%) of trainees in Northern Ireland reported significant increase in workload intensity on dayshifts and on nightshifts (20%).  
  • Lack of training opportunities impacts trainees’ career progression, creating more staffing gaps in higher grades. 21% of trainees in Northern Ireland reported a lack of protected time for completion of all the mandatory training requirements of their post. This was higher than elsewhere in the UK (17%) 
  • Training protections will be essential to tackling our waiting list crisis. 
Fix our contract

Commitment from the Department of Health to entering contract negotiations on a reformed junior doctor contract that improves workplace protections, facilities, working hours and recognition. 

Here's why:

  • The existing contract does not match the reality of training in 2023.  
  • A new contract is needed that creates a good working environment conducive to training to incentivise junior doctors to stay in training in Northern Ireland. 

Calculating junior doctor pay erosion in Northern Ireland

Our calculations show that our pay has been eroded by 30.7% since 2008 when compared with RPI inflation. This is a huge loss to our pay and our living standards that fails to reflect the responsibility, training, and sacrifices required of our work. It’s causing a workforce crisis as fewer and fewer trainees choose to stay in Northern Ireland to train. To make matters worse, the recent DDRB recommendation of a 6% pay uplift, plus £1,250, will not be awarded in Northern Ireland

We are not worth 30% less than we were in 2008 and we are not worth less than doctors in other countries. Our basic pay is also the lowest in the UK.

Download our methodology explainer

NI Wales Scotland England
F1 £26,713 £27,115 £31,082 £32,398
F2 £33,133 £33,633 £38,553 £37,303
SpR (specialty registrar) £35,405 £35,940 £40,995 £43,923

The effects of pay erosion

Our pay erosion isn’t just affecting us. It also has an effect on the health service in Northern Ireland. Sub-inflationary pay increases have meant it is now less attractive to work and train in Northern Ireland. We are seeing a workforce crisis emerge from our eroded pay because there are better options elsewhere. This retention and recruitment crisis facing the health service is a risk to its future in Northern Ireland.


The 2023/24 GP training programme intake has posts for 121 trainees. NIMDTA has recently confirmed that only 99 trainees have been recruited to commence in August 2023.

With better pay, we will incentivise more doctors who studied in Northern Ireland to stay and doctors outside of Northern Ireland to come and work here. With more doctors, our rotas will be less intense and we will all have more time for training.

Political situation in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland was without an active Executive or Assembly until February 2024

Northern Ireland was without an active Executive or Assembly until February 2024.

A new health minister, Robin Swann, was appointed and immediately said addressing pay [https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/health-minister-prioritises-pay-talks] was a key issue.

We continue to actively lobbying the Minister, health committee members and other MLAs to ensure that they understand the crisis affecting junior doctors and what needs to be done urgently to fix the health service.

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Complaints And Concerns
Finding out about member issues

We recently surveyed junior doctors about pay, conditions, training what you’d be willing to do alongside us to make things change.

Throughout March and April we held listening sessions in workplaces across Northern Ireland attended by hundreds of junior doctors. In the survey and at the events the message was clear: we are undervalued, underpaid, overworked, and lack good training opportunities.

The list of problems was sobering, ranging from inappropriate last-minute pressure to cover gaps that were known about for weeks, suppression of locum pay, incorrect bandings, huge delays in provision of rotas, and a real decline in the quality of training in recent years.

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Pay erosion evidence for the DDRB

In January 2023 we submitted evidence to the DDRB with our core pay ask being full pay restoration for all medical staff, including junior doctors.

We continued to participate in the DDRB process, recognising that despite our significant concerns regarding the DDRB’s independence from government, it represents one of the few avenues to achieve a pay rise for doctors in Northern Ireland in the absence of an Executive. We highlighted the dire state of training in Northern Ireland, the pressures we all face, and the workload that is causing so many colleagues to take time out of training or to move abroad entirely. Read our response to the 2023/24 DDRB pay recommendation.

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Campaign resources

Download a range of campaign materials to share on social media and in your communal work and rest areas.

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