Posted: Tue 23rd Aug 2022

Doctors in Wales struggle to justify remaining in the NHS, BMA pay survey finds

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Aug 23rd, 2022

Up to 700 doctors say they are likely to leave the Welsh NHS as a result of the Welsh Government’s pay award announcement last month.

A record 1,397 doctors responded to the BMA Cymru pay survey, over treble the response rate of the previous year, indicative of the strength of feeling amongst the profession.

In the survey, doctors issued stark warnings that the NHS is ‘close to collapse,’ with an overwhelming number of respondents saying they were exhausted and burnt out.

79% of respondents said the pay award, which will see a below inflation uplift of just 4.5% for most doctors has further decreased morale.

Dr Iona Collins, Chair of the BMA’s Welsh Council, said the survey findings resonate with what she is hearing from colleagues across Wales. She said:

“Doctors work in the NHS because they believe in the NHS. Both working conditions and pay, however, keep challenging their decision to remain employed by the NHS.

“Doctors’ take-home pay has reduced over several years, making the NHS an increasingly unattractive employer.”

“To make matters worse, doctors are on the receiving end of complex pension tax bills, resulting in some doctors essentially working for free, and others finding out that they have lost money by going to work in first place.”

“This means that doctors cannot increase their usual working hours resulting in no chance of making significant progress to reduce waiting lists.”

“It’s not difficult to understand why so many senior doctors are retiring early and younger doctors are moving abroad or finding alternative careers. This situation has got so bad that last year, 52% of NHS consultant physician posts in England and Wales remained vacant.

“We are running out of time. Crisis after crisis in our NHS is making headline news, with the two root causes relating to medical staffing and medical resources. COVID has accelerated a problem which has been evolving for years and there is no point having COVID recovery plans when there is not enough medical staff to deliver the existing services, let alone trying to increase the services available.

“We read so many different reports highlighting the same two problems of not enough staffing and not enough resources. NHS Wales needs to take a good look at how it currently values its medical workforce and reconsider the proposed pay award accordingly.

“Unreasonable pay will simply drive more doctors out of our NHS, after all, when we’re ill, we’re more likely to be treated by a doctor than a spreadsheet”

Doctors responding to the survey concurred that it is currently impossible to provide excellent care due to lack of staff, and patient safety was flagged as a concern by many respondents.

One respondent called the situation ‘terrifying’. Others echoed concerns around being undervalued and heavily burdened, feeling that the only option is to reduce their hours, retire early, or move abroad despite this adding to the problem.

BMA Cymru Wales representatives will meet with the minister for health and social services, Eluned Morgan, next month to discuss the immediate need for action.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “In announcing our pay award for the NHS workforce in Wales, we made clear that without additional funding from the UK government, there are limits to how far we can go to address these concerns in Wales.”

“We continue to press the UK government to provide additional funding necessary for fair pay rises for public sector workers.”

Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said:

 “The Labour Government in Cardiff Bay should stop saying they are being held back by the UK Government – which itself is hamstrung by financial limits – and recognise that it signed up to the pay-rise recommendation of an independent panel.”

 “If Labour really believes that money can be magicked out of thin air so it can make popular announcements, maybe it should use its own revenue-raising powers by upping income tax, and we’ll see how popular they remain.”

 “Devolution of power is the devolution of responsibility – but after quarter of a century in power, it seems Labour keep forgetting that basic principle.”

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