Junior doctor strikes in Scotland suspended as improved offer to be put to BMA members

by BMA Scotland media team

Press release from BMA Scotland

Location: Scotland
Published: Friday 7 July 2023
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Next week’s planned Scottish junior doctor industrial action has been suspended after the latest period of intense negotiations ended with BMA Scotland agreeing to put an improved offer from the Scottish Government to its members.

This year, Junior Doctors will receive a pay rise of 12.4%. For the following three financial years, Junior Doctors will receive a guaranteed minimum pay uplift of inflation every year. Over this three-year period, the Scottish Government has committed to negotiate further annual pay rises on top of inflation that must, “make credible progress on the path towards pay restoration”.

In addition, BMA Scotland will enter contract negotiations with the Scottish Government from Autumn 2023 with the aim of improving the working and training conditions of Junior Doctors in Scotland by April 2026. As part of these negotiations, they will agree a new Pay Review mechanism, the aim of which is to reach a “mutually agreeable path to achieve pay restoration and prevent erosion recurring in the future”. This mechanism once established should complete the process of restoring Junior Doctor pay and ensure it is protected against any recurrence of pay erosion in the long term.

On this basis, the BMA’s Scottish Junior Doctor Committee (SJDC) today agreed unanimously that it would recommend members accept the offer in a consultative vote in the coming weeks.

Speaking after a full meeting of the committee, where the decision to put the offer to members was made, Dr Chris Smith, chair of SJDC, said:

“This has been an intense period of negotiation with the Scottish Government.

“At this stage, our negotiating team feel they have reached the limit of what can be achieved this year and do not think strike action would result in a materially improved offer. As a result, we have agreed to suspend next week’s strikes and put this offer to our members.

“This offer commits the government to working with doctors to restore our pay and prevent pay erosion from occurring in the future.

“This is an unprecedented shift from the Scottish Government, which is a recognition of the huge decline in real terms pay that doctors have experienced over the past fifteen years, and the huge amount of work needed to undo the damage this has caused to the NHS. 

“By agreeing to address the way our pay has been cut, and setting out a clear mechanism for doing so, the Government is making a serious, welcome commitment to ensuring that pay for Junior Doctors in Scotland is restored to a fair level.

“The agreement is clear that the increases above inflation over the next three years must be substantial enough in real terms to make credible progress on the path towards pay restoration.

“We will now deliver wide ranging and comprehensive details of the offer to members over the coming days and will open a fresh consultative vote as soon as we can. While we have suspended next week’s strikes, our mandate to strike still has months to run, so all options will remain open. Indeed, regardless of the outcome of the consultative vote, the collective power junior doctors have demonstrated by consistently and powerfully speaking up on behalf of the profession should ensure that we are never again taken for granted as we have been for the last 15 years.”

Notes to editors

In negotiations, the BMA and Scottish Government agreed to focus the funding for the current pay award into this year – 2023/24 – rather than spreading it over 2 as in the previous offer. This means the pay uplift in 2023/24 is 12.4%. If you also consider the 4.5% award already made for last year, it takes the package over the two years to a 17.5% increase in aggregate. As a result, while the financial commitment remains the same as the previous offer – the consolidated uplift is greater (14.5% under the last offer) because it is applied in a single year and there is no requirement for backpay for 2022/23.

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