A proposed pay settlement is making doctors consider leaving the health service, the British Medical Association (BMA) in the North of Ireland has said.
In a BMA survey of more than 1,000 doctors, 85% of respondents said the proposed uplift of 4.5% was too low.
The representative body said discontent was very high among junior doctors with 93% of them saying it was too low.
The BMA added that doctors may take industrial action.
It said the inability to introduce the pay award due to the absence of an assembly and executive had further affected members, with 89% of respondents saying the inability to apply the increase “had decreased or significantly decreased their morale”.
A spokesperson said staffing and the lack of doctors were among the key issues affecting the health service in Northern Ireland and the proposed pay increase was unlikely to help.
“When asked about their intentions as to the likelihood of them continuing to work in Northern Ireland, junior doctors said they were now more likely to leave because of the low pay award,” said the BMA.
“This was more than other branches of practice, with 72% of junior doctor respondents either ‘more likely to leave’ or ‘much more likely to leave’.
“However, over 55.71% of consultants, 53.26% of SAS (speciality) doctors and 52.57% of GPs also said the inability to make the award made them more likely or much more likely to leave the health service.”
According to the BMA, more than 50% of respondents indicated they would be willing to take some form of industrial action that affects services to patients with junior doctors most likely to take action.
The chair of the BMA in the North, Dr Tom Black, described the figures as “stark”.
“The level of dissatisfaction, low morale and burn-out among doctors is probably higher than I have ever seen it,” said the Derry-based GP.
“We are doing our best to meet the needs of patients but are under pressure from all sides and a low pay award combined with an inability to actually get the award paid is another blow.
“This is a real terms pay cut on top of many years of pay erosion.“Working as a doctor is becoming increasingly unappealing with rising patient numbers, but complete stasis in terms of transforming our health service and addressing many of the issues it is facing.”
Dr Black said the health system was “broken and essentially running on goodwill”.
“We need to take action to improve the working lives of doctors and pay is one element of that,” he said.
“Unfortunately the working lives of doctors have become more stressful due to waiting lists, excessive workloads, staff shortages, inadequate funding, unfair pension rules and pay.
“Doctors are now considering a choice between emigration, resignation or retirement.
“Our committees will now be looking at what action their members are willing to take.
“We are clear that we will not put up with this situation and that we need to see change on the ground before it’s too late.”Tags: