SDLP Young People’s Spokesperson Cara Hunter has said that the concerns of junior doctors cannot be ignored.
Ms Hunter said that without a fair pay award and changes to working conditions the North faced an exodus of young doctors.
She said losing talented staff would compound the existing issues within the health service.
East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said:
“With the state our health service is in the last thing we need is talented young staff leaving the North in search of greater opportunities elsewhere. Reports that three-quarters of junior doctors are thinking about leaving are highly concerning, but understandable given that they can earn significantly more in other parts of these islands and further afield, while accessing more favourable working conditions.
“We need to start recognising the contribution junior doctors make to our health service and treat them accordingly. There have been countless documented issues around junior doctors working longer and longer hours under increasing pressure and there needs to be an acknowledgement that the current situation is unsustainable for all of our health staff.
“Without giving them a reason to stay more and more junior doctors will be considering their options. That they are being balloted for strike action for the first time shows how far the situation has deteriorated and the feeling of despondency that exists within their ranks.
"Retaining and recruiting staff is going to be key if we are to address the issues within our health service and implement the long overdue transformation. Without making our current staff feel valued and secure the change we need will be impossible. I would urge the Secretary of State to work with the Department of Health to acknowledge the plight facing junior doctors and other health staff and commence talks to avert this potential industrial action. What we really need is an Assembly and Executive in place to address the wide range of issues impacting workers and families across the North.”