BMA says pay offer 'not enough' to avoid Northern Ireland junior doctors' strike

The BMA says plans for the 24-hour strike next month will go ahead in Northern Ireland. Credit: UTV

The BMA says the current pay offer from Health Minister Robin Swann to avert strike action by junior doctors in Northern Ireland is "not enough".

Mr Swann wrote a letter this week pleading with junior doctors in Northern Ireland not to strike next month, warning that the walkout would impact heavily on patients.

The minister said he intends to increase junior doctors' pay by up to 10.7% and said that is the very limit of what can be afforded at this point.

“We have responded to the minister’s letter," said Dr Fiona Griffin, BMA NI junior doctors committee chair.

"The current ‘offer’ is the DDRB’s most recent recommendation.

"We have been consistently clear we are seeking an above inflation pay rise for all junior doctors and a commitment to working with us towards full pay restoration.

"As it stands, what has been offered is not enough to avert strike action and our plans for this continue.

"We remain willing to work with the minister to agree an offer we believe is worth putting to our members."

It follows Monday's announcement that junior doctors voted in favour of walking out of work for 24 hours from 8am on 6 March.

They are calling for an immediate, above inflation pay award and a commitment to full pay restoration to 2008 levels.

In his letter, Robin Swann said: "I fully understand and sympathise with the frustration of junior doctors over both pay and the relentless pressure on services.

"My plea is that this frustration should not spill into industrial action that cannot achieve anything of substance."

The letter added: "Pay erosion has been a consequence of UK Government fiscal policies over the past decade and has been experienced across the UK public sector. This is a national issue.

"I am committed to doing all I can to match awards given in England – but parity plus for pay awards is not deliverable."

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