Junior Doctors Strike For Better Pay And Conditions

McGrath shows support for junior doctors

Junior doctors across Northern Ireland were out on strike today supporting the BMA call for better wages and conditions.

This is the first time in their history here that they have gone on strike.

Morale is low among the junior doctors as they are the lowest paid junior doctors among the regions across the UK. Ulnless party of salaries is restored quickly, many will no doubt be looking to careers in far off places such as Australia, Dubai, Canada and the US when they finally qualify.

Many doctors suffer from burnout or teeter on the verges of it.

Junior doctors in the North of Ireland are even paid less that their counterparts in the South. They are now angry and frustrated at being given the political shoulder and are demanding with the support of trade unions their rights.

Colin McGrath MLA, Opposition Health Spokesperson, said we need to sort out the wages and terms of employment for junior doctors and create a world class health system.

SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has given the party’s full backing to junior doctors taking industrial action on Wednesday.

Mr McGrath visited the picket line at the Ulster Hospital to show solidarity with those on strike.

“It is the first time junior doctors have taken strike action in the North,” said South Down MLA Mr McGrath. “The SDLP stands fully behind junior doctors who were forced to take the difficult decision to strike for the first time today, Wednesday.

“The overwhelming support among union members for taking this action shows the strength of feeling that exists within our junior doctors as they continue their fight for fair pay and working conditions.

“I have been engaging with the BMA on the challenges facing junior doctors for some time and those I met at the picket line on Wednesday reflected just how tough things are at the minute.

“Junior doctors work incredibly long hours on difficult schedules and I heard first-hand how some face difficulties getting time off, even to attend a friend’s wedding or other important life events.

“The facilities on offer during shifts are also often completely inadequate for those working overnight, making a bad situation even worse.

“Their work-life balance is totally inadequate.

“The reality is that our junior doctors are the lowest paid anywhere on these islands and unless this is addressed we will continue to lose talented people who decide to move for better pay, treatment and opportunities.”

Some junior doctors in the North are earning a basic £13 and hour which is close to the minimum wage of £10.42 after studying for seven years and working through their F1 and F2 years often on the front line as many did during the Covid-19 pandemic working long hours under enormous pressure.

Colin McGrath added: “These are not just junior doctors, they are the doctors of tomorrow and given the challenges within our health service retaining the health professionals that we train is crucial.

“I would implore the Health Minister to listen to the experiences of junior doctors and reach a fair settlement.

“They are not asking for the earth and there needs to be an acknowledgement of the important role they play within our health system.”