Posted: Mon 6th Nov 2023

Junior doctors in Wales begin voting on possible strike action amid pay dispute

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Nov 6th, 2023

Junior doctors across Wales have begun voting on potential industrial action today.

The move stems from the Welsh Government’s perceived neglect to address longstanding concerns about junior doctors’ pay rates.

BMA Cymru says that over the last 15 years, “junior doctors in Wales have experienced a pay cut of 29.6% in real terms. They received another sub-inflationary pay offer from the Welsh Government this year of 5%, which is below the recommended amount made by the DDRB, and the worst offer in the UK.”

The health service is now under “extraordinary and unprecedented pressure,” and BMA Cymru Wales says it is “deeply concerned that ongoing pay erosion will continue to drive doctors out of the profession at a time when the NHS can least afford to lose them, leading to a vicious cycle of crippling staffing shortages and worse patient care.”

“The pressures of the job are so severe that, in a recent GMC survey, two-thirds of trainee doctors said they ‘always’ or ‘often’ felt worn out at the end of a working day,” the union said.

BMA Cymru added: “This situation cannot continue, and the strength of feeling among junior doctors is clear. A recent BMA survey showed that 89% of responding junior doctors in Wales would be prepared to take industrial action if doctors’ pay continued to be eroded in Wales.”

The co-chairs of the BMA’s Welsh junior doctor committee, Dr. Oba Babs-Osibodu and Dr. Peter Fahey, said: “The Welsh Government’s failure to value junior doctors and reverse years of pay erosion has forced us to enter a trade dispute.”

“Junior doctors embarking upon their careers are shouldering significant student debts and facing increasing financial pressures. It is hardly surprising that the latest sub-inflationary offer from the Welsh Government has made junior doctors feel angry, unvalued, and unwilling to continue with the current trajectory.”

“A junior doctor is not worth up to a third less today than they were in 2008, and yet this is the amount of pay erosion that we are facing. The continued erosion of our pay, coupled with the extraordinary pressures now facing the NHS, has resulted in a perfect storm.”

“Many of our colleagues are questioning whether to remain in the NHS, looking further afield for opportunities where their expertise and dedication are properly valued.”

“This is not a decision we have made lightly. No doctor wants to take industrial action, but we have been given no choice. Doctors are already voting with their feet and leaving the NHS,” a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that doctors are balloting for industrial action. We understand the strength of feeling among doctors about the 5% pay offer and the pressures all public sector workers are under due to the cost-of-living crisis.”

“While we would wish to address the pay restoration ambitions of our vital medical staff, our offer is at the limits of the finances available to us and reflects the position reached with the other health unions for this year. Without additional funding from the UK Government, we are not in a position to offer any more. We will continue to press them to pass on the funding necessary for full and fair pay rises for public sector workers.”

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