Junior doctors in Wales vote overwhelmingly for strike action

by BMA Cymru Wales media team

Press release from BMA Cymru Wales.

Location: Wales
Published: Monday 18 December 2023
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A 72 hour full walkout will take place from 15 January

Junior doctors in Wales have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in their fight for pay restoration*, a campaign to restore their pay which has been cut by nearly a third (29.6%) in real terms since 2008/9.

Almost every junior doctor who cast a vote (98 %) voted in favour of industrial action in the ballot which ended at midday today (Monday 18th December).

A significant 65% of junior doctors eligible to vote in Wales had responded to a call to take part in strike action which will take place from 15 January**.

The 72-hour full walkout could potentially 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.

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:

“This vote clearly shows the strength of feeling. We are frustrated, in despair and angry and we have voted clearly to say, ‘in the name of our profession, we can’t and we won’t take any further erosion of our pay.

“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

*Welsh Junior doctor committee joins strive for full pay restoration

**Strike action will take place from 7am on the 15 January to 7am on the 18 January.


***According to stats Wales, in June 2023 3,998 junior doctors are recorded as working in Wales. This includes specialist registras, SHOs, FY1 and FY2 https://statswales.gov.wales/Catalogue/Health-and-Social-Care/NHS-Staff/Medical-and-Dental-Staff/hospitalmedicalanddentalstaff-by-grade-year

**** 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.
Ballot results breakdown:

Number of individuals who were entitled to vote in the ballot 2,689

Number of votes cast in the ballot 1,740

Votes cast in the ballot as a % of individuals who were entitled to vote 65%


Number of spoilt or otherwise invalid voting papers returned 3

Result of Voting:

Yes 1696 (98%)

No 41 (2%)

Consultants and SAS doctors working in Wales are also in a pay dispute with the Welsh Government and will be balloting members on strike action in due course.

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.

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