A SWAH doctor has described the breakdown of pay negotiations - which will see junior doctors once again taking to the pickets - as "hugely frustrating".

Dr. Oisin Fearon, who works locally in Enniskillen, called on the Department of Health (DoH) to "take note" of junior doctors' pay concerns, and to re-enter negotiations to allow a "satisfactory resolution".

Following the end of pay talks with DoH, junior doctors across Northern Ireland will now embark on two further 48-hour walkouts, which will take place from 7am on Wednesday, May 22, to 7am on Friday, May 24, and again from  June 6 to June 8. 

Dr. Fearon, who is the Western Trust’s representative for British Medical Association’s NI junior doctors committee, said that while further strike action is something that members would "rather avoid", they have been left with "no choice".

"Undoubtedly, it's something we would rather avoid," he said. "However, after two meetings with Department of Health (DoH) officials, there has been no progress on the pay asks. 

"This has left us with no choice but to go back on strike. We felt there was no point continuing to negotiate when there was nothing coming back from the other side."

Following the announcement of further strikes, Health Minister Robin Swann warned of "significant impacts" on service delivery, which could exacerbate challenges in the health service.

He also told Stormont's health committee that this year's budget would make "further industrial action" in the health service more likely.

However, Dr. Fearon has urged Minister Swann to think of the "bigger picture" around why Junior Doctors are seeking better pay. 

 "If this leads to progress in pay, it will lead to progress with the retention of doctors, and in turn the safety of the healthcare service due to better healthcare staffing," he said. 

"Hopefully they (DoH) will take note and see that this isn't something that can be put to one side."

Dr. Fearon continued: "Locally, it is a devolved issue that can be acted on locally. There is a sense of waiting to see what happens in England, but that could be a long time. I don't see why we have to drag our feet on this. 

"Hopefully  DoH will be able to provide an appropriate answer to our concerns, and be at least able to negotiate on a pay rise."