Doctors' leaders call for swift pay rise agreement for Northern Ireland

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By Q Radio News

BMA Northern Ireland has urged the minister of health to make a swift decision on a pay rise for doctors.

Doctors in England, Scotland and Wales were on Tuesday awarded a 2.8% increase by their governments for the 2020/21 financial year.

The BMA's Northern Ireland Council chairman, Tom Black, said: "The last four months of the Covid-19 pandemic will have been one of the most stressful periods of doctors' working lives and yet they responded to it with commitment, hard work and innovation, willingly working long, unsociable hours away from their loved ones and putting their own wellbeing and lives at risk in the process."

He said there have been significant delays to the pay award in Northern Ireland in recent years which has affected morale and contributed to lack of pay parity, particularly during the months of delay.

Dr Black said: "Doctors and other frontline health service workers will be called on again to work above and beyond for our health service during what will be the busiest winter period it might see yet.

"The very least the Department of Health can do is to recognise these efforts by implementing the 2020/21 pay uplift in a timely fashion."

In April, Health Minister Robin Swann said a 2020/21 award fully established pay parity with England.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The minister wants those on the health and social care front line in Northern Ireland to be properly rewarded for their work and commitment.

"He is also keen to see this year's pay award for doctors and dentists resolved more quickly than has been the case in recent years.

"Decisions on public sector pay awards are taken in the context of the annual public sector pay policy set by the Department of Finance."

A Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration said the delays to the pay award process in Northern Ireland continue to be unacceptable.

"We expect pay awards to be made in a timely fashion following the submission of our reports, and this has unfortunately not been happening in Northern Ireland for some time.

"This in turn undermines the credibility of the pay determination process amongst the remit group and is likely to have a negative impact on morale."

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