JUNIOR doctors working in the Royal Victoria Hospital are currently balloting on whether to take strike action over pay.  

If successful, we will then take part in a 24-hour full walk out on March 6. This will mean that services to patients will be disrupted.  

Why are we balloting for strike action? To put it simply, junior doctors in Northern Ireland have reached a point where we are demoralised, undervalued and burnt-out. We can range from being newly qualified doctors earning less than £13 per hour and still being the only doctor responsible for wards of patients overnight, to experienced surgeons earning £30 per hour performing life-saving procedures and taking life and death decisions.  

We are a vital part of the health service workforce, yet our pay has been eroded by 30.7 per cent since 2008. This is a huge financial loss to us as individuals, and it is also causing a workforce crisis as many of us are thinking about leaving Northern Ireland to work elsewhere, or leave medicine entirely for better pay and working conditions. 

Industrial action is our last resort, but we cannot see any alternative to make our voice heard. The Health Service has been brought to its knees and is failing all of us – its patients, the communities it serves and the people who work in it. It is for that reason that we are asking for your support should a yes ballot be returned. 

We know strike action will be disruptive for patients, but we have been left with no other option.  

We are also calling on local elected representatives from all political parties to support our call for an immediate, above-inflation pay award and for a commitment to full pay restoration for junior doctors. We also hope to see them supporting us on the picket lines in March should a yes vote be returned. 

We must be paid fairly for the work that we do. Only by doing that can we make sure that junior doctors stay in Northern Ireland and provide a safe service to our patients and ensure a future for the health system here.   

Dr Paul Mogey,  
BMA’s Northern Ireland Junior Doctors Committee