Dr Tom Black said he believes “we could pay a heavy price if we ease the restrictions too soon.”
“Social distancing I think is with us for the next year, the shielding of our most vulnerable is probably with us for the long-term until we can get a vaccination,” said Dr Black said, who was also speaking on BBC’s Radio Foyle today.
Dr Black, who is the head of the British Medical Association (BMA) in the North of IrelandHe also revealed that young doctors are being pulled back from the frontline of Covid-19 treatment over concerns about payments to the families of those who die from Coronavirus.
The system of payments for frontline workers here has not yet been announced.
Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme, Dr Tom Black said a £60,000 payment announced for the bereaved families of frontline workers in England was “a terrible insult to the profession which stepped up in these circumstances”.
Dr Black said the way payments normally worked, the bereaved family of a doctor would expect to receive about double a year’s salary, and about half of their pension.
He said in the current circumstances, a number of groups of doctors would miss out on this, including GP locums, retired members who have come back, or very young doctors who are in the first two years of their career.
“I can no longer put forward my young doctors into the Covid centres or into the Covid wards, the GP locums,” said Dr Black.
“I would be looking at them and saying: ‘do you know what, your family, your wife, your children will not be covered, they will not get the pension that you deserve’.
“We will instead, and this is what we have been doing for the last month while we’ve been waiting for this decision, we’ll put forward older doctors like me who are more at risk.
“Because you know what, the government won’t pay the pension to the widows of younger doctors.
“That is not acceptable.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The DoH is committed to developing a fair and effective scheme for providing life assurance.
“The minister is currently considering which model represents the best fit for Northern Ireland and which most equitably reflects the important contributions being made for our health service.
“Different approaches are being taken in different UK regions and the minister will reach a decision shortly, having examined the different options.”