‘Ministers must wake up’ on junior doctors’ pay to retain the workforce, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: England
Last reviewed: 10 June 2022

Junior doctors have today supported a vote for a campaign to restore their pay and reverse a 22% decline in take home pay since 2008/2009.

The BMA campaign sends a clear message to the Government that junior doctors do not deserve to have lost almost a quarter of their pay in that time.

If the demand to restore pay is not met, the BMA will begin preparations for a ballot of junior doctors in England for industrial action by early 2023 at the latest.

By an overwhelming majority, the junior doctors committee delegates passed a motion last month - ratified at a meeting today - calling on the BMA to begin campaigning for full restoration of their pay. Between 2008/09 and 2020/21, the estimated take-home pay for the average junior doctor in England has declined by 22.4% in real terms and these losses are accelerating now with inflation continuing to rise.

Dr Sarah Hallett and Dr Mike Kemp, BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs, said:

“England’s junior doctors are not worth a quarter less than they were 13 years ago as a result of pay awards falling below inflation. As their exhaustion and burnout levels have spiralled – made even worse by the pandemic – their take home pay has declined by nearly a quarter in real terms since 2008/2009.

“No junior doctor wants to feel that industrial action is their only option, but increasingly we are facing little choice. For two years junior doctors have endured unbearable conditions, with many putting their lives on the line to care for patients, often under the most intolerable circumstances. The response from the Government has been to simply ignore these sacrifices.

“The NHS now faces an uncertain future with chronic under-funding and a backlog that will take years to clear. Therefore, it is time that ministers wake up to the reality that they have the chance to make the situation so much better, but their choices could make the current situation so much worse.

“Further pay erosion is likely to drive more junior doctors out of the NHS, especially when a worldwide shortage means that we risk losing staff to better paid jobs overseas. The truth is that without fair pay for junior doctors, the NHS will not be able to recruit new doctors or retain the ones it has. Patients will undoubtedly suffer, and the NHS will lose its future workforce.

“It is time we were listened to, and our pay fully restored – the ball is firmly in the Government’s court to make this happen and avoid disruption to the heath service and our patients.”


Notes to editors

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.