Putting a stop to pay erosion – the time to unite is now

As BMA Cymru Wales prepares to go back to the negotiating table, WJDC co-chairs Amna Babiker and Georgie Budd explain why talks with the Welsh Government in the next few weeks will be crucial in forging a path for pay restoration

Location: Wales
Published: Thursday 20 April 2023

As junior doctors in England end an unprecedented four-day walkout we are determined not to lose momentum in the collective fight to restore pay for hard-working doctors across the UK. Any progress we make in Wales is progress for our colleagues across all the nations.

You have told us how unsafe shift patterns and chronic understaffing are compounded by persistent cuts to pay, forcing many to leave the NHS. Another crushing blow, another insult despite years of training, mounting debt, hard work and personal sacrifice to help others.

We would ask any politician or member of the public to imagine taking a 26.1% pay cut despite working just as hard under unsafe conditions.

What’s happened so far?

As outlined in our last blog, WJDC (the BMA Wales junior doctors committee) voted to reject the enhanced pay award for 2022/23; we wrote to the minister setting out our reasons for this and to reiterate our call for an above-inflation uplift for 2023/24 and a commitment to a timeline to achieve FPR (full pay restoration).

As we’d not heard back from the minister after two weeks, we made the difficult decision to write again setting out that if we did not receive a response by 3 April, or if no action was taken to commit to an above-inflation uplift for 2023/24 or a timeline to achieve FPR, we would have no option but to begin internal processes to ballot for industrial action.

In response to this letter we have been invited to attend pay talks alongside BMA representatives from other secondary care branches of practice, to discuss the nature of the pay award for 2023/24 and our shared commitment to FPR.

What’s next?

Thanks to your efforts, we’ve been able to make our voices heard. We’ve found strength in unity and will this week meet with Welsh Government in order to begin pay negotiations for 2023/24.  

Pay restoration is firmly on the agenda, with assurances from the health minister that a working group will be set up as part of our pay talks, to look at how pay restoration can be achieved.

We will endeavour to keep you updated over the coming weeks and months, as we continue the fight for fair pay.

What you can do now

For any campaign to be successful, we need to have an active network of pay activists at every hospital site in Wales, and this will be even more important if we do take the difficult decision to ballot for industrial action. That’s why it’s so important for you to sign up today to become a BMA Cymru Wales junior doctor pay activist. As a pay activist you’ll be instrumental in building a team at your workplace that drives our campaign for full pay restoration!

You should also read our activist’s guide to winning the campaign, which talks you through what you need to do at your workplace to make sure we achieve FPR for junior doctors in Wales.

Amna Babiker and Georgina Budd are co-chairs of the BMA Welsh junior doctors committee