Demoralised doctors in Wales consider industrial action for the first time

by BMA Cymru Wales Media Team

Press release from BMA Cymru Wales.

Location: Wales
Published: Thursday 22 December 2022

In a recent survey of hospital doctors by BMA Cymru, 63% of respondents indicated that they would be willing to take some form of industrial action up to and including strike action over their current pay and conditions.

The survey – which ran for the first two weeks in December - featured responses from doctors working in every health board in Wales. The questions were designed to gauge members’ views on the latest below inflation (4.5%) pay award from Welsh Government.

The survey revealed that:

- 63.3% of respondents would be willing to take industrial action, up to and including strike action;
- 78% of respondents felt that a pay rise that matched or exceeded inflation was needed to reflect their current contribution.
The BMA’s Chair of Welsh Council Dr Iona Collins said:

“This survey result is upsetting to all, including the doctors who took part. Doctors are healthcare professionals who invest most of their lives to care for others. They care passionately about their jobs and take their vocations seriously. It's gut-wrenching for doctors to consider walking away from work, when doctors know that they are so desperately needed in the workplace.

“Doctors have been quietly quitting the NHS for years, by reducing their contracted hours or leaving altogether. The financial incentive to remain in the NHS has eroded over the last decade. Furthermore, a change in NHS pension taxation has seen senior doctors who have worked overtime in good faith punished for propping up the NHS by paying more than the overtime pay back as pension tax.

“No other healthcare system devalues their doctors like this, so there is little wonder that so many doctors leave the NHS to work elsewhere.

“Patient waiting lists are at record high levels and the NHS workforce predicament is affecting healthcare colleagues across the board. Without action now, patients will continue to suffer as a direct consequence of an under-funded NHS with insufficient direct clinical care.

“On that basis we hope the Welsh Government will now finally wake up to the crisis in the medical workforce and take serious action, starting with better pay awards as part of an urgently required plan to address years of pay erosion."

On next steps Dr Collins said:

“I have written to the Minister for Health and Social Services to inform her of the results of this survey and to seek an urgent meeting to discuss the need for immediate action.

“Members on our branch of practice committees will now discuss the survey results and decide the next steps.”


Notes to editors

Notes to editors
1. The figures in this release are based on a survey of 977 hospital doctors which includes junior doctors, staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors and consultants, conducted between from 2nd-15th December.
2. GP members were not included in this survey. Welsh Government, GPC Wales and NHS Wales have committed to undertake further joint work, to pursue change and improvement in several key areas including the sustainability of the workforce and the service. As part of that, we will continue to press Welsh Government for increasing levels of resources to match the increase in demand on GP services.
3. A previous BMA survey undertaken in August this year found that 52% of respondents are now more likely to leave the Welsh NHS as a result of this year’s pay award.

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