BMA Scotland: Junior doctors in Scotland vote to accept Scottish Government pay offer.

Press release from BMA Scotland

Location: Scotland
Published: Wednesday 16 August 2023
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Junior doctors in Scotland have voted conclusively to accept the latest pay offer from the Scottish Government.

The result of the consultative vote saw 81.64% vote in favour of the offer. The turnout was 71.24%.

This year, junior doctors in Scotland will receive a pay rise of 12.4% backdated to April. For the following three financial years SJDC will now enter yearly negotiations with the Scottish government that must “make credible progress” in real terms towards full pay restoration to 2008 levels. Inflation will be guaranteed as the floor for each round of ongoing negotiation.

In addition, the government has committed to agreeing a new pay review mechanism with junior doctors – the aim of which is to reach a “mutually agreeable path to achieve pay restoration and prevent erosion recurring in the future” – effectively withdrawing junior doctors in Scotland from the Doctors and Dentists Pay Review Body (DDRB).

Finally, BMA Scotland will enter contract negotiations with the Scottish government from autumn this year, with the aim of improving the working and training conditions of junior doctors in Scotland by April 2026.

Following extensive discussion, the BMA’s Scottish Junior Doctor Committee (SJDC) agreed unanimously that it would recommend members accept the offer as the best next step for Scottish doctors in the ongoing campaign for full pay restoration.

Chair of SJDC, Dr Chris Smith, said: 

“This offer moves us from a position where pay restoration was a strongly held conviction within our profession to a shared goal that the Scottish government has publicly committed to working with us to complete.

“Earlier this year junior doctors in Scotland said enough is enough – they were clear that they will no longer stand aside and accept any more sub-inflationary pay awards year after year. The strong mandate for striking – with 97% of those who turned out in our ballot voting in favour of industrial action – speaks for itself.

“Key to this offer, that sets it apart from what is happening elsewhere in the UK, is that the Scottish government recognises this reality and has agreed to ongoing negotiations towards full pay restoration to 2008 levels, with an unprecedented commitment to set inflation as the floor of the pay offer at each round of negotiation. This structure will maintain the momentum of our campaign in Scotland for full pay restoration over the next few months and into next year.

“If sufficient progress towards full pay restoration is not made at the next round of negotiations or should the Scottish Government not follow through with any elements of its offer, we will not hesitate to ballot our members again and take strike action, should it be required. We have demonstrated our power – and no-one should be in any doubt about how strong we are as a collective or what we can deliver when we stand together.

“While we accept that this year’s 12.4% uplift makes only a small amount of real terms progress towards fully reversing the 28.5% pay cut we have received since 2008, it represents a start. It is a compromise achieved in our negotiations that reflects the record inflationary pressure on the Scottish budget this year which is dependent on a fixed grant from the UK Government, with only limited devolved tax, borrowing and reserve powers. In negotiations we were clear that a similar real terms percentage increase will not be acceptable during the next round of negotiations as inflation eases. We are clear that the Scottish Government should begin the necessary budgetary preparation for this immediately.

“Indeed, a huge amount of work will be required from the Scottish government to undo the damage the past 15 years of pay decline has caused the NHS, but this offer is a serious, welcome commitment to ensuring that pay for junior doctors in Scotland is restored to a fair level.

“SJDC have achieved what we have by sticking together and through the constant support of members. We’ll be needing that more than ever as we begin the path to full pay restoration from this point forward.

“I look forward to getting down to work with the Scottish government imminently to start negotiations to improve our working lives, make pay restoration a reality and ensure that as a profession we are never again taken for granted as we have been for the last 15 years.”

Notes to editors

The total number of BMA Scotland members eligible to vote was 5580.

The total turnout was 71.24% (3975)

Total accept was 81.64% (3245)

Total reject was 18.36% (730)

The British Dental Association (BDA) has also confirmed 80% of its eligible members voted on the pay offer, with 93% voting to accept, and 7% voting to reject the offer.

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