Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland consultants suspend strike to consider ‘credible’ pay offer

BMA Northern Ireland’s consultant committee had been due to stage a 24-hour walkout on Wednesday, June 26, but are now taking time to consider a pay offer from the Department of Health

Dr David Farren is chair of the BMA's Northern Ireland Consultant Committee.
Dr David Farren is chair of the BMA's Northern Ireland Consultant Committee.

CONSULTANTS in Northern Ireland have suspended a planned 24-hour strike next week to consider a “credible” pay offer from the Department of Health.

The BMA Northern Ireland consultants committee had received a 92% backing from those who voted for the walkout from 7am on June 26.

After representatives met with the Department of Health they will now explore the offer further.

Dr David Farren, chair of the BMA Northern Ireland’s consultants committee said: “We have agreed to suspend our strike action while we discuss the proposals the Department has made.

“Striking is still an option, but in suspending the strike we have made a signification step, and we are hopeful we can present a credible offer to members soon.”

The development follows three separate strikes from junior doctors in Northern Ireland this year over pay and conditions, with the possibility of further action still possible.

The Health Minister Mike Nesbitt has welcomed the development, stating it created space for “constructive and productive negotiations on a credible way forward.”

“I very much value the contribution made by consultants and all their colleagues across medicine and the entire health and social care system.”

In England this week, specialist (SAS)doctors in the BMA voted in favour of a new government pay deal after months of negotiations.

It will be worth between 9.5% and 19.4% for SAS doctors in England on 2021 contracts, while those on 2008 contacts will get a pay uplift of £1,400 on top of a 6% increase awarded for 2023/24.

In April, BMA consultants in England also accepted a pay offer which they described as “the end of the beginning” in efforts to restore their pay to 2008 levels.

The changes will mean fewer steps for consultants to move up their payscale, with a 2.85% (£3,000) uplift for those that have been consultants between four and seven years.

This was also in addition to a 6 % uplift for 2023/24 and separate to the pay award for 2024/25.