BMA Scotland: urgent action needed to address consultant workforce issues.

by BMA Scotland media team

Press release from BMA Scotland

Location: Scotland
Published: Tuesday 29 August 2023
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Now is the time for the Scottish Government “to take real action to address the deeply ingrained feelings of low morale, disenfranchisement and dissatisfaction from across the consultant workforce in the NHS”, BMA Scotland said today.  

Chair of the BMA’s Scottish consultants committee, Dr Alan Roberson, has voiced his concern following the results of the organisation’s pay survey conducted on the back of the Scottish Government’s announcement of their recent pay award to senior doctors. 

He also warned that without urgent actions to fix pay, working conditions and workload, the staffing shortages impacting the profession would only get worse as more and more senior doctors leave the NHS. 

A survey on the recent pay award carried out by the British Medical Association in Scotland, of which more than 50% of the consultant membership responded, found that: 

  • 85% of respondents felt the uplift was too low 
  • 81.1% said they were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied that the award recognises their contribution to the NHS. 
  • 68% said it had decreased their morale – of which 36.55% said it had significantly done so. 
  • One in two consultants are more likely to leave the NHS as a result. 

Speaking about the results, Dr Alan Robertson, said: 

“Sadly the results of this survey come as no surprise, we know the medical profession has been under an inordinate amount of stress and strain for many years – and consistently poor pay awards that have delivered years of real terms pay cuts have only made this worse.  Doctors are tired, burnt out and asking themselves if it is time to cut their losses. Vacancy rates amongst the consultant workforce are not improving, most specialties have just become used to working with rota gaps. There is a serious workforce retention crisis, and today’s results show that with one in two consultants more likely to leave the NHS as result of the recent pay award, that isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon. Indeed, the position will only get substantially worse without urgent action for fixing pay, working conditions and workload from the Government. 

“We have seen some improvement and movement on penalising pension issues, although these improvements have been limited, hard fought and a long time coming. Doctors are feeling devalued by continued pay erosion alongside increasingly difficult working conditions and a poor work life balance. Action needs to be taken now to prevent this crisis from spiralling even further, and I therefore am seeking an urgent meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for health to discuss the results of the BMA’s survey and the strength of feeling of my colleagues across NHS Scotland. I am urging the government to take real action to address the deeply ingrained feelings of low morale, disenfranchisement and dissatisfaction from across the consultant workforce in the NHS. 

“The Scottish Consultant Committee will meet to discuss the survey and any response from the Cabinet Secretary at its next meeting in early September. Indeed, we hope very much that Mr Matheson will be able to respond positively before that point to help guide our decision making, which will of course include all potential next steps, such as the possibility of a potential ballot for industrial action.  We of course hope to avoid that, but we have to recognise that this has been an ongoing issue for a long time, consultants are now at their lowest ebb, many are desperate for urgent improvements, the need for immediate action is clear.” 


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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