Junior doctors in Wales to be balloted in November for industrial action

by BMA Cymru Wales media team

Press release from BMA Cymru Wales.

Location: Wales
Published: Thursday 5 October 2023
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BMA Cymru Wales will ballot junior doctors in Wales for strike action from the 6th November.

The decision to open the ballot comes following the Welsh Government’s failure to make any effort to restore junior doctors’ pay, which has left BMA Cymru Wales with no choice but to enter a trade dispute and ballot for strike action.

The ballot which will be open to all BMA junior doctor members in Wales, is set to run for six weeks closing on 18th December and if successful will lead to a 72-hour full walk-out by participating junior doctors in Wales.

Over the last 15 years, junior doctors in Wales have experienced a pay cut of 29.6% in real terms. They received another sub-inflationary pay offer from the Welsh Government this year of 5%, which is below the recommended amount made by the DDRB, and the worst offer in the UK.

The health service is now under extraordinary and unprecedented pressure and BMA Cymru Wales is deeply concerned that ongoing pay erosion will continue to drive doctors out of the profession at a time when the NHS can least stand to lose them, leading to a vicious cycle of crippling staffing shortages and worse patient care.

The pressures of the job are so severe that, in a recent GMC survey, two-thirds of trainee doctors said they ‘always' or ‘often’ felt worn out at the end of a working day.

This situation cannot continue and the strength of feeling among junior doctors is clear. A recent BMA survey showed that 89% of responding junior doctors in Wales would be prepared to take industrial action if doctors' pay continued to be eroded in Wales.

The co-chairs of the BMA’s Welsh junior doctor committee, Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey said:

“The Welsh Government’s failure to value junior doctors and reverse years of pay erosion has forced us to enter a trade dispute.

“Junior doctors are embarking upon their careers shouldering significant student debts and facing increasing financial pressures.

“It is hardly surprising that the latest sub-inflationary offer from Welsh Government has made junior doctors feel angry, unvalued, and unwilling to continue with the current trajectory.

“A junior doctor is not worth up to a third less today than they were in 2008, and yet this is the amount of pay erosion that we are facing. The continued erosion of our pay coupled with the extraordinary pressures now facing the NHS has resulted in a perfect storm.

“Many of our colleagues are questioning whether to remain in the NHS, looking further afield for opportunities where their expertise and dedication are properly valued.

“This is not a decision we have 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”

Notes to editors

* https://www.gmc-uk.org/education/how-we-quality-assure-medical-education-and-training/evidence-data-and-intelligence/national-training-surveys

** On 16th August the Welsh Junior doctors committee voted to ballot members on industrial action with the Welsh Consultants and SAS committee taking the same decision to enter a trade dispute https://www.bma.org.uk/bma-media-centre/welsh-doctors-set-to-vote-on-industrial-action-over-pay


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