Health Secretary admits he has no mandate from the Prime Minister to negotiate a pay deal with junior doctors just days before strike

BMA Press release.

Location: England
Published: Thursday 2 March 2023

Leaders of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee say they are frustrated and hugely disappointed by the Health Secretary’s admission that he has not got the authority or the green light from Rishi Sunak to negotiate with them. The surprise confession came earlier today at a meeting at which committee co-chairs - Dr Rob Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi - had hoped an offer on the pay deal would be on the table. Junior doctors in England will stage a 72-hour walk out from the 13th March. Over the past 15 years they have seen their pay erode by more than 26% with newly qualified doctors starting on £14 per hour; restoring pay would mean increasing that £14 to just £19.

Dr Rob Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said:

“It is beyond belief that the person in Government appointed to look after our health service, and the staff in it, has no power to put any kind of deal on the table. We went to today’s meeting with every intention of entering into negotiations with a Health Secretary who has known from day one of his tenure what was at stake – tens of thousands of junior doctors in England who are demoralised, exhausted, and vastly underpaid for the valuable work they do. Instead, he wanted to go over those details once more but did not or could not offer any kind of deal, or even start negotiations. Mr Barclay said that mandate lay with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, yet neither were at the meeting, so we are no further forwards.

“Rishi Sunak urgently needs to either give his Health Secretary the mandate to negotiate a settlement with us or come to the negotiating table himself. Actions speak louder than words and if the Health Secretary and Prime Minster genuinely want to bring an end to the dispute, it is within their gift to do so. Put a realistic, reasonable offer on the table and let serious negotiations begin and if the deal is acceptable, strike action can be averted.”


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.