Senior doctors in Wales vote to strike over pay.

by Wales Office

BMA Cymru Wales Press Release: immediate release, Monday 4th March 2024

Location: Wales
Published: Monday 4 March 2024

A 48 hour strike will take place from Tuesday 16 April

Consultants and SAS (specialist, associate specialist, and speciality) doctors have voted to strike as part of a dispute with the Welsh Government over their pay, which has been cut by almost a third in real terms since 2008/9.

The results of the ballots, which ended at midday today (Monday 4 March), for doctors working in both branches of practice in Wales saw 86% of consultant voters and 94% SAS doctor voters cast their ballots in favour of industrial action.

A significant 70% of consultants and 58% SAS doctors eligible to vote in Wales had responded to a call to take part in industrial action which will take place from Tuesday 16 April.

Consultant and SAS doctors make up over half (54%) of the hospital-based medical workforce combined, with 3,137 Consultants and 1,088 SAS doctors working in hospitals across Wales. *

The BMA is now calling on all consultants and SAS doctors in Wales to participate in a 48 hour strike, except for those providing ‘Christmas day’ cover.

This level of cover will ensure doctors can provide emergency care, but all elective or non-emergency work will be postponed during this period.

BMA Cymru Wales is working with NHS employers on precise staffing levels that are appropriate and will provide guidance to members in advance of any strike days.   

Dr Stephen Kelly, chair of the BMA’s consultants committee in Wales, said: 

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision. No doctor wants to strike, but the conditions now faced in the workplace caused by the extreme pressures on the service and unsafe staffing levels have left doctors with no choice.   

“Fewer doctors now want to develop their careers in Wales with some health boards reporting vacancy rates of over third for senior doctor posts.  

“Colleagues are now choosing to retire early, reduce their hours or move out of Wales where pay is competitive, and wards better staffed. 

“Unless doctors are better valued for the work they do, more and more doctors will leave an NHS already under severe pressure in Wales”. 

Dr Julie Jones, Deputy chair of the BMA’s SAS doctors committee in Wales added:

“Doctors are burning out from covering significant gaps in the workforce and patient safety is at risk. With this result our members have chosen to take a stand for the profession and for patients.

“People are waiting for treatment for longer than ever before, resulting in poorer outcomes and more time in the hospital and we all deserve better.

“This result represents a profession that is not ready to give up on the NHS and its patients in Wales”.

The decision to ballot members was taken 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 for 2023/24 which is below the recommendation made by the DDRB and is the worst offer in the UK. 

The BMA is calling on the Welsh Government to provide sufficient funding to enable discussions around an uplift in senior doctor pay that will retain existing doctors and ensure that we are able to recruit more.

Consultant and SAS doctor strike action will take place from 7am, Tuesday 16 April to 7am, Thursday 18 April.

Junior doctors in Wales will begin their third round of strike action a 96-hour full walkout from 7am Monday 25 March in pursuit of a fairer deal for their service**

 

Notes to editors

Notes to Editors 

*Data taken from StatsWales

**Press Release Junior doctors in Wales announce new strike dates in fight to restore pay. - BMA media centre - BMA

Ballot results breakdown:  

Consultants

Number of individuals who were entitled to vote in the Consultants ballot: 2006

Number of votes cast in the ballot: 1395

Votes cast in the ballot as a % of individuals who were entitled to vote 69.54%

Question asked: ARE YOU PREPARED TO TAKE PART IN STRIKE ACTION?

Number of spoilt or otherwise invalid voting papers returned: 2

Result of Voting:

Yes  1192 (85.57 %)

No  201 (14.43%)

SAS doctors

Number of individuals who were entitled to vote in the SAS doctors ballot: 477

Number of votes cast in the ballot: 276

Votes cast in the ballot as a % of individuals who were entitled to vote 57.86%

Question asked: ARE YOU PREPARED TO TAKE PART IN STRIKE ACTION?

Number of spoilt or otherwise invalid voting papers returned: 1

Result of Voting:

Yes 259  (94.18%)

No 16 (5.82 %)

Short video on SAS doctor and Consultant pay erosion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysLjYi-6B8M

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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