Senior doctors in Wales to be balloted in January for industrial action

by BMA Cymru Wales media team

Press release from BMA Cymru Wales.

Location: Wales
Published: Wednesday 20 December 2023

BMA Cymru Wales will ballot consultant and specialist, associate specialist and speciality (SAS) doctor members in Wales from Monday 22 January on whether they wish to take strike action over pay.

The ballots, which will be open to all BMA consultant and SAS doctor members in Wales, are set to run concurrently for six weeks closing on 4 March.

The decision to ballot members comes after the BMA rejected the Welsh Government’s first and final pay offer for the 2023/24 financial year for those working in secondary care. For consultants and SAS doctors on closed contracts the offer was 5%; SAS doctors on more recent contracts received as little as 2.5%. This final offer left BMA Cymru Wales with no choice but to enter a trade dispute and ballot for strike action.

Over the last 15 years, consultants and SAS doctors in Wales have experienced a pay cut of almost a third since 2008/9. They received another sub-inflationary pay offer from the Welsh Government which is below even the recommendation made by the DDRB and is the worst offer in the UK.

Dr Stephen Kelly, chair of BMA Cymru Wales consultants committee, said:

“Whilst no doctor wants to take industrial action, poor working conditions are driving senior doctors to retire early, reduce their hours or leave NHS Wales. All the while patients get sicker, and outcomes get worse.

“Significant gaps in the workforce are only making things worse. Investing in staff retention should be the Welsh Government’s number one priority when looking to improve NHS services and so quite simply we have run out of options.”

Welsh SAS committee deputy chair Dr Julie Jones said:

“We are demoralised and burnt out. Day in day out we want to provide patients with the quality care they deserve, but huge staffing gaps are making this work impossible. We all deserve better than this.

“We want to serve our patients who are our top priority, but poor pay and even worse conditions have forced us to take this step.”

The ballots, which will run concurrently, will be open to consultant and SAS doctor members working in the Welsh NHS. On Monday 18 December junior doctors in Wales announced a huge majority of their members had voted for industrial action. A 72-hour full walkout from 15 January could see over 3,000 junior doctors withdraw their labour from Welsh hospitals and GP surgeries in pursuit of a fairer deal for their service.**

Meanwhile contract negotiations between Welsh Government, NHS Wales and BMA Cymru Wales’s GP committee ended without resolution in October, leading to a stark warning on the future of General Practice from GP leaders. GPC Wales is now lobbying the Welsh Government for an urgent financial rescue package to save the service from collapse.***

 

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