BMA Scotland confirms date for Junior Doctor strike ballot

BMA Scotland confirms date for Junior Doctor strike ballot.

Location: Scotland
Published: Friday 24 February 2023

A ballot of junior doctors in Scotland on strike action will open on Wednesday, March 29th, BMA Scotland confirmed today.

BMA Scotland’s Junior Doctor Committee is in formal dispute with the Scottish Government over its approach to pay following 15 years of pay erosion which sees a junior doctor today earning 23.5% less than if they were doing the same job in 2008.

This year’s pay award of just 4.5% amounted to another substantial real terms pay cut which will only have made the position worse, particularly against the backdrop of spiralling inflation.

Confirming the ballot will run for just over 5 weeks and close on May 5th, Dr Chris Smith, SJDC Chair, said:
“This is a significant moment for junior doctors in Scotland – and the 29th of March will be a hugely important day.

“It comes after the Scottish Government has repeatedly failed to meet the Scottish Junior Doctors Committee (SJDC) demands for pay negotiations, instead telling us that the coffers are empty and that they cannot do better than 2022/23’s derisory 4.5% pay award. This was, in reality, a massive pay cut - or the equivalent of working 3 and a half weeks for free this year compared to last. And this is on top of the pay erosion experienced which means a foundation doctor earns 23.5%, less than they would have done in 2008 – a figure which is even higher for registrars.

“Not only do we need pay restoration to finally value our work appropriately, we also need it to address the staffing crisis in our NHS. By retaining talent in a global marketplace that covets Scottish and UK doctors, we would protect patients and restore staffing to a point at which we could provide a standard of care to be proud of.

“The first and easiest step towards this is to begin negotiations with us on a clear plan for pay restoration – which would in effect be a down payment to secure a sustainable future for the NHS.

“So far, despite oft repeated claims of strong NHS trade union relations, we have seen no evidence that the Scottish Government is prepared to enter into any formal negotiations around how to deliver full pay restoration for junior doctors. On that basis, we are still in correspondence with the Cabinet Secretary, and I plan to accept his invitation to meet and discuss soon. Frankly, however, based on our experience so far, I am not holding my breath. If the Scottish Government wants to keep using its line about no NHS strikes in Scotland, junior doctors are going to need a rapid and tangible change of direction.

“I am afraid that further informal meetings or the attempts the Scottish Government have already made to defer the issue to the DDRB independent pay review body, which has previously clarified it does not have a remit to address historical pay discrepancies, are not enough. Our message is clear: the only way to resolve this dispute is direct and formal pay negotiations between the BMA Scotland junior doctors committee and Scottish Government, tasked to address 15 years of pay erosion.”

Notes to editors


Tim Jays, Head of Public affairs and Strategic Comms, BMA Scotland, (0131) 2473018/07768 005850