Today (Monday 15th January) junior doctors across Wales start their first day of strike action over their pay. Almost every junior doctor (98%) who took part in the ballot for industrial action which ended 18th December voted to strike in pursuit of pay restoration*, a campaign to restore their pay which has been eroded by almost a third (29.6%) since 2008/9*
The 72-hour full walkout from 7am on the 15 January to 7am on the 18 January could see over 3,000** doctors with up to 11 years of experience out of medical school withdraw their labour from Welsh hospitals and GP surgeries across Wales in pursuit of a fairer deal for their service.
Doctors will be present at picket lines outside all of Wales’ main hospital sites*** as well as taking their concerns to members of the Senedd with a planned mass demonstration outside the Welsh parliament building on Tuesday 16th January****
The Welsh junior doctors committee made the decision to ballot members in August after being offered another below-inflation pay offer of 5% - the worst in the UK and lower than recommended by the DDRB (the review body for Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration).
The offer was put to the doctors just four months after the Welsh Government initially declared they would commit to the principle of pay restoration back in April 2023.
Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey co-chairs of BMA Cymru Wales’ junior doctors committee said:
“No doctor wants to strike; we had hoped the Welsh Government had properly understood the strength of feeling amongst junior doctors in Wales. Sadly, their inaction over this matter has led us here today, demoralised, frustrated and angry.
“After years of undervaluing our lifesaving service we feel we’ve been left with no choice but to stand up for the profession and say enough is enough, we cannot and will not accept the unacceptable anymore.
“Our members have been forced to take this difficult decision because Junior doctors in Wales have experienced a pay cut of 29.6 per cent in real terms over the last 15 years.
“A doctor starting their career in Wales will earn as little as £13.65***** an hour and for that they could be performing lifesaving procedures and taking on huge levels of responsibility.
“We aren’t asking for a pay rise - we are asking for our pay to be restored in line with inflation back to 2008 levels, when we began to receive pay cuts in real terms. Pay needs to be fair and competitive with other healthcare systems across the world to retain and recruit doctors and NHS staff to provide much-needed care.
“On top of this junior doctors are experiencing worsening conditions and so doctors are now looking to leave Wales to develop their careers for better pay and a better quality of life elsewhere.
“This is not a decision that has been made lightly. No doctor wants to take industrial action, but we have been given no choice. Doctors are already voting with their feet and leaving the NHS and we are in a vicious cycle of crippling staffing shortages and worsening patient care”.
Notes to editors
** According to stats Wales, in June 2023 3,998 junior doctors are recorded as working in Wales. This includes specialist registrars, SHOs, FY1 and FY2
*** Official pickets will take place up and down the country from Monday 15 January and Wednesday 17 January between 7am and 10am. To set up a media interview please email [email protected] or call 029 2047 4615
**** At 12pm on Tuesday 16th January hundreds of junior doctors from across Wales will unite to hold a mass demonstration over their pay which has been eroded by almost a third (29.6%) since 2008/9. To arrange an interview at the demonstration please contact [email protected] or call 029 2047 4615
***** The basic pay of a foundation year 1 doctor in Wales is £27,115 which is £13 an hour (£14 an hour in England) based on a 40 hour week.
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.