BMA Scotland today confirmed that following extensive negotiations it will put the pay offer made by the Scottish Government to its junior doctor members in a consultative vote.
The pay offer made amounts a 6.5% uplift for this year and an increase from 4.5% to 7.5%, backdated for 2022/23 – an aggregate uplift of 14.5% over two years
The Scottish Government has also committed to a Junior Doctor Pay Bargaining Review Taskforce which will have a remit to develop a new pay bargaining system that seeks to prevent pay erosion and finally ensure pay properly recognises the contribution of junior doctors in Scotland.
The consultative vote on the pay offer will open in the next fortnight and will run for two weeks. BMA Scotland will adopt a neutral position on the offer, providing the relevant figures and information to members but empowering them to make the final choice.
An overwhelming mandate for strike action, provided by the ballot undertaken by BMA Scotland earlier this year, remains in place for six months – ensuring all options remain open following the outcome of the vote.
Scottish Junior Doctor Committee chair, Dr Chris Smith, said:
“We have approached the negotiations with the Scottish Government in good faith and, now that a final offer has been made, it is right that the junior doctors in Scotland have their say on what has been put on the table. To be clear, this is not a deal we have agreed, and we have not accepted any offer.
“However, the offer that has been made is without doubt an improvement on the 4.5% awarded last year, and the improved offer for 22/23 would represent a slowdown in doctors pay erosion, which had accelerated up to this point after 15 years of real terms decline. Our commitment to the long-term aim of righting that historical wrong remains firmly in place and will continue to be a top priority going forwards.
“We feel this offer reflects the best that the Scottish Government will offer after this series of negotiations. This is why it is essential our members decide our next steps. The members who gave us an overwhelming mandate for strike action will now decide whether the offer is sufficient as we begin the long overdue journey towards pay restoration, which would still have some way to go if the offer is approved.
“Importantly, should there be a higher award following recommendations from the Doctors and Dentist’s Pay Review Body (DDRB) or there be potential extra funding flowing from a deal done in England – we will be able to revisit the offer.
“The Scottish Government has also proposed a Junior Doctor Pay Bargaining Review Taskforce. This must urgently provide a vastly improved mechanism for determining junior doctor pay in the future, which consigns the below inflation increases provided under the DDRB system to history.
“It must ensure we never again see our pay eroded – and instead deliver the above inflation pay rises we know are needed to secure the future of the profession by preventing doctors leaving the NHS for better offers abroad and restores pay to the levels that properly reward our highly skilled work. Should the offer be accepted, we will not rest in holding the Scottish Government to account on this commitment.
“If members do reject, that would reflect that this offer on its own does not tackle pay erosion and is likely to be sub-inflationary over the two-year period, despite being an above inflation offer for this year if RPI falls as predicted. Given the length of the mandate provided by our ballot, this option would put several different options back on the table, including potential strike action or further negotiations with the Government. However, there are also no guarantees in this scenario.
“This is a hugely important decision, but it is doctors voting and engaging with the BMA in Scotland that have taken us to this point, and it must be those same doctors who continue to set the direction of our junior doctor workforce going forward.”
Notes to editors
A consultative vote enables the BMA as a Trade Union to get a view from members on whether or not the offer put to them is acceptable. Unlike a formal industrial action ballot, which is highly regulated through legislation, a consultative vote is not binding on the executive of the Trade Union, and they will use the outcome to consider what steps they wish to take based on the result.
BMA Scotland will proceed to a consultative vote in due course, and this will be carried out through electronic voting and will take 3-4 weeks to complete, allowing for time ahead of the vote for providing full details of the offer and other relevant information to members. The dates will be confirmed in due course.
The uplift is a total gross uplift over two years – since a percentage uplift is added for 2022/23, and subsequently for 2023/24, the total is greater than the two separate uplifts.