Junior doctors take to the picket lines

JUNIOR doctors in Fermanagh and across the North have begun their first ever strike action, taking to the picket lines this morning (Wednesday) as part of an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.

Anyone with a hospital appointment today is likely to have it rescheduled, with “significant disruption to hospital services” expected as a result of the industrial action, which began at 8am this morning and continues until 8am tomorrow.

The Department of Health said the focus of the health and social care system today would be on “maintaining safe services for acutely unwell patients.”


“Due to the requirement for senior medical staff to cover roles normally carried out by junior doctors over this period, there will be substantial disruption to planned hospital activity both on the strike day itself, and subsequently as services recover from the strike day,” said a Department spokesman.

“Most scheduled activity – planned operations and outpatient clinics – across all five Trusts will not take place March 6 in order to free up the senior medical workforce. Surgical operating lists will therefore largely be confined to emergency surgery.”

Junior doctors overwhelmingly voted for strike action, with the British Medical Association (BMA) stating it showed they felt they had no other choice.

The BMA said junior doctors’ salaries had fallen by 30 percent in the past 15 years.

Junior doctors in England – where they have a starting salary of £33,000 compared to the £26,000 junior doctor’s starting salary in the North – have already taken part in a strike in their dispute over pay.

Speaking previously, SWAH-based junior doctor Oisin Fearon said he and his colleagues had reached a stage were they felt “demoralised, undervalued and burnt-out.”

Dr Fearon, who is the local representative from the BMA’s NI Junior Doctors Committee (NIJDC), said, “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.

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

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