Third group of hospital doctors vote to hold an indicative ballot after Government fails to tackle pay erosion

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Wednesday 20 September 2023
Press Release Icon

A third group of hospital doctors in England has voted to hold an indicative ballot for strike action, after the Government failed to present them with an offer to urgently improve their pay and working conditions.

The decision was made at a meeting of the Specialist, Associate Specialist and Specialty doctors (SAS) UK committee, which had previously warned it would move forward with an indicative ballot if the Government did not produce an offer that meaningfully addressed concerns around pay, career progression and working conditions.

SAS doctors1 are senior and highly skilled healthcare professionals who, for many different reasons, decided not to follow the traditional consultant or GP pathway. The majority work in hospitals, alongside junior doctors and consultants, but some also work in the community.

Like many of their NHS colleagues, they have experienced chronic pay erosion and poor working conditions, leading many to question whether they want to remain in the NHS; in the last 15 years, they’ve seen their real-terms pay has plummet by as much as 31%.

The indicative ballot will open on 25th September and close on 16th October.

Dr Ujjwala Mohite, chair of SAS UK at the BMA, said: “It’s with a heavy heart that the SAS Committee has decided to go ahead with an indicative ballot for industrial action, but the Government has left us with no choice.

“SAS doctors are not commonly known, but they make up the trinity of hospital doctors, delivering frontline patient care every day. Like our colleagues, we’ve seen our workload dramatically increase in recent years, but our pay hasn’t risen with inflation. Being asked to do more for less has created a culture where we feel ignored, taken for granted, and undervalued.

“With so many doctors feeling like this, it’s about time the Government listened – at a time of immense pressure on the health service, we simply cannot afford to lose any more doctors. All we want to do is care for our patients, but that’s put at risk when doctors feel undervalued and end up wondering whether they even want to stay in the NHS.

“Today’s announcement - which comes as our consultant and junior doctor colleagues take to the pickets together - sends a clear message to the Government: that we, and most importantly, our patients, are worth more than this. The Government cannot keep its head in the sand any longer and must address the undervaluing of doctors. This is an opportunity to stop another bout of NHS industrial action, and we implore the Government to take it.”


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.

  1. There are 15,596 SAS doctors working in England, according to NHS Digital.