Posted: Mon 4th Mar 2024

Senior Doctors in Wales to take 48-hour strike action next month

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Senior doctors in Wales have voted to take 48-hour strike action next month in a significant escalation of a pay dispute with the Welsh Government.

The dispute centres around claims of pay cuts by almost a third in real terms since the 2008/09 financial year, with the British Medical Association (BMA) leading the call for action.

The results of the ballots, which ended at midday today, Monday 4 March, for doctors working in both branches of practice in Wales saw 86% of consultant voters and 94% SAS doctor voters cast their ballots in favour of industrial action.

A significant 70% of consultants and 58% SAS doctors eligible to vote in Wales had responded to a call to take part in industrial action which will take place from 7am, Tuesday 16 April to 7am, Thursday 18 April.

Consultants and SAS doctors make up over half of the hospital-based medical workforce combined, with 3,137 Consultants and 1,088 SAS doctors working in hospitals across Wales.

This level of cover will ensure doctors can provide emergency care, but all elective or non-emergency work will be postponed during this period.

BMA Cymru Wales said it is working with NHS employers on precise staffing levels that are appropriate and will provide guidance to members in advance of any strike days.

Dr Stephen Kelly, chair of the BMA’s consultants committee in Wales, said:

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision. No doctor wants to strike, but the conditions now faced in the workplace caused by the extreme pressures on the service and unsafe staffing levels have left doctors with no choice.

“Fewer doctors now want to develop their careers in Wales with some health boards reporting vacancy rates of over third for senior doctor posts.

“Colleagues are now choosing to retire early, reduce their hours or move out of Wales where pay is competitive, and wards better staffed.

“Unless doctors are better valued for the work they do, more and more doctors will leave an NHS already under severe pressure in Wales”.

Dr Julie Jones, Deputy chair of the BMA’s SAS doctors committee in Wales added:

“Doctors are burning out from covering significant gaps in the workforce and patient safety is at risk. With this result our members have chosen to take a stand for the profession and for patients.

“People are waiting for treatment for longer than ever before, resulting in poorer outcomes and more time in the hospital and we all deserve better.

“This result represents a profession that is not ready to give up on the NHS and its patients in Wales”.

The decision to ballot members was taken after the BMA rejected the Welsh Government’s first and final pay offer for the 2023/24 financial year for those working in secondary care.

For consultants and SAS doctors on closed contracts the offer was 5%; SAS doctors on more recent contracts receive 2.5%.

This final offer left BMA Cymru Wales with no choice but to enter a trade dispute and ballot for strike action, the union said.

The BMA said: “Over the last 15 years, consultants and SAS doctors in Wales have experienced a pay cut of almost a third since 2008/9. They received another sub-inflationary pay offer from the Welsh Government for 2023/24 which is below the recommendation made by the DDRB and is the worst offer in the UK.”

The BMA is calling on the Welsh Government to provide sufficient funding to enable discussions around an uplift in senior doctor pay that will retain existing doctors and ensure that we are able to recruit more.

Junior doctors in Wales will begin their third round of strike action a 96-hour full walkout from 7am Monday 25 March in dispute over pay.

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