BMA to survey junior doctors on possible action to take following anger over exclusion from pay award

BMA press release. 

Location: England
Last reviewed: 6 August 2021
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The BMA will survey1 tens of thousands of its junior doctor members in England to find out what they think of the Government’s decision to exclude them from the 3% pay rise given to other doctors and NHS staff, despite calls to increase the 2% uplift that had been agreed prior to the pandemic.

The survey which launches today will determine what action, if any, they want the BMA to take on their behalf, including the potential for industrial action. This comes as the BMA junior doctor committee warns that the Government’s failure to recognise the efforts of junior doctors throughout the pandemic has devalued the enormous contribution they have made.

As part of their Fairness of the Frontline2 campaign, the doctor’s union are calling for fair pay for junior doctors following unprecedented demands of the pandemic, which has taken a serious toll on the mental and physical health of junior doctors3.

Despite the success of the changes introduced in the junior contract in 20194 the exclusion from the higher pay uplift this year also comes off the back of a 23% real-terms decline (RPI) in the estimated take-home pay of the average junior doctor in England in 2019/20 compared to 2008/09.

BMA junior doctors committee chair Dr Sarah Hallett said:

 “Given the significant lengths that junior doctors have gone to throughout the pandemic and the profound impact this has had on their personal and professional lives, the Government’s decision to exclude them from the pay uplift announced last month is nothing short of insulting.

“3% is not an adequate uplift for any of our vital NHS staff, but in refusing to award the additional 1% to junior doctors in England above their multi-year pay deal, ministers have effectively devalued their enormous and lifesaving contributions over the last 18 months.

“The last 18 months have been amongst the most challenging for junior doctors in recent history, and they have worked tirelessly to treat patients and protect the nation against this deadly virus, at times even placing their own lives at risk.

“Understandably, many doctors will be angry and feel deflated that the Government has chosen not to recognise their efforts with a fair reward. As exhausted junior doctors continue to make incredible sacrifices whilst facing the largest ever backlog of care, it is time for the Government to urgently reconsider their approach and ensure that junior doctors get the fair uplift they deserve.”


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.

  1. BMA Fairness for Frontline campaign for junior doctors.
  2. A BMA survey in April found that more than 40% of junior doctors said they were experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, or burnout that had been worsened by the pandemic, while 60% said their current levels of fatigue or exhaustion were higher than normal.
  3. A series of improvements were agreed to the junior doctor contract in England in 2019 following negotiations with employers; this deal included £90 million investment into the contract, as well as 2% uplifts annually for four years. During submissions to the DDRB for the 2021/22 pay round however, the BMA highlighted that such multi-year deals were made before the unprecedented demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that all doctors have gone to extreme lengths to tackle the pandemic, and thus should be recognised in this year's pay award.