Statement on industrial action

Date published: 17 May 2024

The Department of Health has advised patients that the health service will experience widespread disruption next week due to industrial action.

Department of Health Latest News image white text on a departmental blue background
Department of Health Latest News image white text on a departmental blue background

A two day strike has been called by the BMA Junior Doctors Committee from 7am on Wednesday 22 May to 7am on Friday 24 May.

HSC Trusts will work to mitigate the impact as much as possible and will publish more information next week on affected service areas. Significant disruption is expected not only on the two strike days but over following days.

The Department stands ready to continue discussions with the Junior Doctors Committee and does not accept that talks have “collapsed”. There are important issues of substance to be progressed, including reform of the current junior doctor contract in NI. The Department has offered a process of independent arbitration, but this has not been taken up to date.

When the ballot for industrial action was launched, junior doctors - like the rest of the NI health service staff – had received no pay award for 2023/24.

That is no longer the case. The 2023/24 recommendations of the national pay review body, the DDRB, have now been implemented in NI. The award will be paid in the June pay run, landing in pay packets next month.

For junior doctors in Northern Ireland, it will bring an average pay increase of 9.07%, with those in their first year receiving a 10.68% uplift.

The Department cannot resolve the BMA demand for pay restoration – for a pay settlement that reverses public sector pay limits over the past decade and more.

That’s an issue that has impacted public sector employees across the UK as a result of UK Government policy. It is a national issue that cannot be resolved locally.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Junior doctors in England have a different contract, which involves a higher basic pay rate than in NI but lower additional payments such as banding allowances. Comparisons between junior doctor basic pay across the two jurisdictions do not therefore provide the full picture.
  2. The vast majority of our junior doctors work on rotas which attract an additional 50% of their basic pay, while a significant number have higher banding allowances. Taken as an average, foundation doctors will earn an additional 58% of their basic pay each year, and junior doctors as a whole will earn on average an additional 53% of their basic pay.
  3. The average total salary of a Foundation doctor in NI during 2023, and before the 2023/24 pay uplifts were applied, was £45,777.
  4. The average total salary of junior doctors as a cohort in NI during 2023, and before the 2023/24 pay uplifts were applied, was £62,423
  5. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email
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  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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