BMA membership levels surge to record high as it calls on the Health Secretary to drop the pre-conditions preventing pay talks

by BMA media team

BMA press release.

Location: England
Published: Tuesday 14 March 2023
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More than 184,000 doctors are now members of the BMA – a record figure for the Association. Seventeen thousand doctors have joined since the start of 2023.

This surge in membership comes as the BMA is calling on the Health Secretary to drop his pre-conditions to entering talks with junior doctors in England over pay – which are responsible for preventing both sides negotiating a settlement to bring an end to the dispute.

Today, thousands of junior doctors have again joined picket lines at hospitals across England in protest over real terms cuts to their pay of more than 26% in the past 15 years.

On Monday, Steve Barclay said the Government “stood ready” to have negotiations but only if a number of pre-conditions were agreed. These include the Government wanting to keep discussions to future pay and limiting talks over 15 years of pay erosion to just a one-off bonus payment. It also appears that the Health Secretary is looking for commitments for the BMA to send any offers the Government makes to members with a recommendation to accept them, which is not something junior doctors would do ahead of entering into formal negotiations.

As picket lines are once again in place today and on Wednesday, the co-chairs of the junior doctor committee, Dr Rob Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said: “We remain open to entering talks with the Government anytime and anywhere to bring this dispute to a swift resolution and restore the pay that junior doctors have lost. If the Health Secretary is truly committed to this, then he needs to drop these unreasonable pre-conditions and begin proper negotiations with us. It is Steve Barclay who is stopping talks happening by putting up barriers he knows our members cannot accept. The preconditions go against the very thing junior doctors are in dispute over. It begs the question; does he even understand why doctors are so angry? Over several years this Government has broken trust with junior doctors, imposed changes to our work contracts without agreement and excluded junior doctors from pay awards.  So, it is really no surprise that we want to see more from the Secretary of State than a vague last-minute letter with impossible preconditions.

“This Government has had months to talk to us and produce a serious offer. The fact that strike action is happening is 100% the fault of Steve Barclay who shows no real commitment to resolving this dispute. An 11th hour suggestion of talks is a facade. He is kicking the can down the road, delaying any meaningful discussion, and failing to show any credible evidence of starting an honest conversation to end the dispute. Patients and doctors want a quick end to this dispute, but it seems the Government want to prolong it. So, we are asking him to drop the barriers he has put in place and start talking – doctors and patients deserve nothing less.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

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