BMA Scotland: Junior doctors vote for strike action

Press release from BMA Scotland

Location: Scotland
Published: Friday 5 May 2023
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Junior doctors in Scotland have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over pay following a five week ballot of BMA Scotland members.

With more than 5000 junior doctors in Scotland eligible to vote, turnout was in excess of 71% - with a total of 3610 votes cast, and almost 97% in favour of strike action.

While negotiations with the Scottish Government over pay are ongoing BMA Scotland will use this clear mandate for strike action to push forward in our ongoing efforts to reverse the unacceptable pay erosion junior doctors in Scotland have suffered for more than a decade.

Should the Scottish Government not put forward a credible offer that the BMA believes could be put to members, junior doctors in Scotland would then begin preparations for a 72-hour walkout at dates to be confirmed in due course.

Dr Chris Smith, chair of the BMA’s Scottish Junior Doctors Committee, said: “This ballot result shows, beyond doubt, that junior doctors in Scotland have had enough.

“Years of pay erosion have seen the take home salary of a newly qualified FY1 doctor decline by 23.5% in real-terms compared to 2008, and the pay of an average registrar reduced by 23.9%. This is simply unacceptable, and we are no longer prepared to stand aside, feeling overworked and undervalued, while witnessing so many junior doctors seeking employment abroad or outside the NHS where our considerable skills are properly valued.

“Investing in today’s junior doctors by paying them the salary they deserve is essentially making a down payment on the future of Scotland’s NHS – today’s junior doctors are the GPs, specialist doctors and consultants of the future. Without a serious plan to reverse pay erosion, these doctors will go on leaving Scotland’s NHS, undermining any plans to build a sustainable NHS for generations to come.

“We have made, and continue to make, progress with Scottish Government in formal negotiations on pay, but there is still some work to do before there is an offer that we believe could be credibly put to members. In the meantime – we will use this mandate to urge the Cabinet Secretary to signal a clear commitment to investing in the future of Scottish junior doctors, to make Scotland’s NHS an attractive place to train, grow and progress our careers, and show us that the work we do is finally properly, and fairly, valued and appreciated. We are not asking for huge pay increases – we are simply asking for a tangible step towards addressing the pay erosion our profession has suffered for well over a decade, combined with a clear plan for this to be reversed and restored.

“Should a credible pay offer not be forthcoming in the wake of this overwhelming mandate, our members are clear that they would have no choice but to stage a 72-hour walkout of all services across Scotland’s NHS.”

Notes to editors

Ballot results breakdown and information:

The Scottish junior doctors strike ballot opened on March 29th and ran for just over five weeks, closing at noon on Friday May 5th

Number of junior doctors entitled to vote: 5052

Number of returned ballots: 3610 (71.46%)

Number of YES votes: 3499 (96.92%)

Number of NO votes: 111 (3.08%)

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