Third group of hospital doctors in England will consider industrial action if Government fails to address pay and working conditions

by BMA media team

BMA press release

Location: England
Published: Thursday 17 August 2023
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A third group of hospital doctors in England will consider planning for an indicative ballot for industrial action unless the Government makes an offer to urgently improve their pay and working conditions, the BMA has warned.

In a letter1 to the Health Secretary today, Dr Ujjwala Mohite, chair of the specialist, associate specialist and specialty doctors (SAS) UK committee, explained that while preliminary talks have been encouraging, the Government is still to present an offer that seeks to reverse years of pay erosion for SAS doctors.

The committee has agreed that if this is not forthcoming before 20th September, then they will have no choice but to move forward with an indicative ballot for industrial action.

SAS doctors are senior and highly-experienced healthcare professionals who, for a variety of reasons, decided not to go down the traditional consultant or GP pathway. The majority of these doctors work in hospitals, alongside junior doctors and consultants, but some also work in the community.

Like many other branches of practice, the Government has continually failed to recognise and reward SAS doctors accordingly and they have seen their real-terms pay fall by more than a quarter over the last 15 years, which is driving more talented professionals out of the NHS and putting patient safety at risk.

Dr Mohite said: “Not many people will have heard of SAS doctors, but they play an incredibly important role in the NHS, making up the trinity of hospital doctors alongside consultants and junior doctors. Like our colleagues, we have seen our value steadily erode over the past 15 years, leaving many wondering whether they should stay working in the health service.

“With every doctor that reduces their hours or leaves altogether, the less safe it becomes for those who are left; risking exhaustion, burnout, and yet more doctors deciding to move out, out of the NHS. Our patients deserve the highest quality of care, but we are seriously struggling to deliver that when so many SAS doctors feel undervalued.

“The Government has the power to prevent another group of doctors from taking industrial action, and we implore the Secretary of State to make sure that we don’t have to.”


Notes to editors

1. To read the full letter, please click here.

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.