McAllister reiterates call for personal engagement between Minister and junior doctors, ahead of Alliance Assembly motion

Alliance Health spokesperson Nuala McAllister MLA has reiterated her call for personal engagement between the Health Minister and the British Medical Association’s Junior Doctor Committee, ahead of an Alliance motion being debated in the Assembly this week.

Health Nuala McAllister

Junior doctors will take part in a two-day strike this week, with a second scheduled for June. The Department of Health released a statement on Friday in which it stated it was ready to continue discussions with the BMA over junior doctor pay and conditions. The Assembly will debate the Alliance motion on Tuesday.

“It was disingenuous for the Department to state they are ready to continue discussions, when the BMA has said its experience is the door to negotiations is firmly shut,” said North Belfast MLA Ms McAllister.

“The Minister has done nothing to inspire the trust or confidence of the junior doctor workforce or demonstrate their pay and working conditions will improve or even match those of the rest of the UK and Ireland.

“Already we have seen promises of uplifts earlier this year which were then delayed, to blaming negotiations in England for being unable to continue discussions on what is a devolved matter, to now a misplaced focus on contract negotiation as a way to resolve this matter. It’s clear the Minister has left a lot to be desired on this issue.

“I have met with junior doctors, who have expressed their devastation at how this has played out. They want to work to support the health and social care service in Northern Ireland but rightly feel unable to do so under current conditions.

“The Minister needs to engage personally and urgently with the BMA to find a workable and acceptable solution for pay and working conditions. It is important junior doctors are given a fair process, with the talks not tied to overall contracts, as that could take over a year to agree.

“This week’s industrial action could have been avoided if the Department had shown junior doctors they are valued and their service is appreciated.”


Wording of the Alliance motion to be debated on Tuesday -

“That this Assembly recognises the valuable work of all staff within HSC NI, as well as the unprecedented pressures facing our health and social care system; acknowledges that junior doctors are a vital element of the health system in Northern Ireland; notes that junior doctors in neighbouring jurisdictions currently experience better pay and conditions for less pressurised workloads than their counterparts in Northern Ireland, causing significant issues for recruitment and retention; further recognises the upcoming strikes are a measure of last resort; and calls on the Minister of Health to urgently and meaningfully engage with the British Medical Association regarding junior doctor pay, taking account of agreements reached in Scotland and Wales.”