Welsh doctors set to vote on industrial action over pay
BMA Cymru Wales is set to ballot secondary care doctors on industrial action after negotiations over pay with the Welsh Government broke down last month.
After a breakdown in negotiations last month, a ballot for industrial action has been approved.
This drastic step comes in the wake of the BMA’s rejection of the Welsh Government’s recent below-inflation pay offer for consultants, junior doctors, and SAS doctors.
For the financial year 2023/24, these professionals have been offered an increase of just 5%, with some SAS doctors being offered as low as 1.5%.
This has been labelled the lowest pay offer any UK government has presented, even falling below recommendations made by the pay review body for doctors and dentists.
The latest developments are in line with the BMA’s UK-wide strategy for pay restoration, aiming to address the wage reductions doctors have faced. Shockingly, doctors’ pay has plummeted by nearly a third (29%) in real terms since 2009.
The BMA has highlighted the Welsh Government’s inconsistency in declaring public commitment to the principle of pay restoration in April 2023, but failing to produce a legitimate proposal to resolve years of wage erosion. Dr Iona Collins, Chair of BMA Cymru Wales, criticised the government for not taking adequate measures despite repeated warnings, resulting in “further pay erosion”.
Chairs of various BMA Welsh committees have openly spoken about the hardships faced by junior doctors, some of whom are struggling to manage basics like rent, heating, and even food, amidst substantial university debts.
The scenario is so dire that Dr Stephen Kelly, Welsh consultants committee chair, painted a bleak picture where “patients get sicker and outcomes get worse” due to senior doctors contemplating early retirement or considering opportunities outside the country.
The potential strike, pending the BMA’s UK council approval, would cover all consultant, SAS doctor, and junior doctor members, including GP trainees, working in the Welsh NHS. This could mark the first national strike by doctors in Wales over pay.
While the BMA committees are considering the prospect of industrial action, GP contract negotiations remain separate, with the GPC Wales scheduled to enter talks in September. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com