Representing Welsh junior doctors at this year’s annual junior doctor conference was a huge privilege. Overall, we left feeling an enhanced sense of unity with UK colleagues thanks to the demonstrative solidarity on important topics such as pay restoration and striving for safer working conditions.
Updates from the conference
We are pleased to report that every motion debated passed at this year’s conference – this included a motion to replace the entrenched ‘junior doctor’ title with one that better represents the skills and responsibilities of doctors in this category. This is a pertinent endeavour whilst we continue to justify our value in the fight to achieve fairer pay.
Also passed was the urgent need to lobby the governments of the UK to regularly publish comprehensive and up-to-date workforce data and introduce legislation to establish safer staffing levels across the NHS.
As with any motion passed at the conference, if it is a devolved matter we can decide if we will adopt it as a policy for our own work plan in Wales. A vote by the BMA Welsh junior doctors committee on all successful motions is, therefore, due to take place soon. We will, of course, keep you updated on this.
All motions passed at the conference will also be ratified at the next UK junior doctor committee meeting on 9 June.
Restoring pay in Wales
Last week, as junior doctors in Scotland voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, we wanted to update you on our progress on restoring pay for junior doctors in Wales.
The annual UK junior doctor conference gave us an opportunity to update members as part of the Q&A session on industrial action. This was a chance to address questions about the recent enhanced 2022/23 NHS pay award in Wales, and the ongoing talks with Welsh Government on the pay award for 2023/24.
We have made it clear that the WJDC's vote on any future pay offers will stand autonomously, and we will seek every opportunity to gather members’ views to inform the final decision.
Rest assured we have made it clear that we would reserve the right to escalate steps towards industrial action should a credible pay offer not be forthcoming.
We were also able to demonstrate the continued pressure we are putting on the Welsh Government to make good on their public declaration to make practical plans to meet the aim of pay restoration back to 2008 levels.
This included the recent press statement we issued where we urgently sought assurances from Eluned Morgan, the minister for health and social services in response to comments made in a press conference where she appeared to look for an opportunity to renege on this commitment.
In response to our press statement, the minister has since sent us a letter to confirm that the Welsh Government is still working towards pay restoration using all the resources within its power which includes but is not limited to influencing UK Government and (PRB) pay review body processes.
What we have learned so far
The main thing is this – YOU are the union. Whilst we enter talks with the hope that we can achieve FPR (full pay restoration) in Wales without industrial action, we need to be ready to prepare for strike action if necessary.
That’s why it’s crucial that every single one of you stands up and plays your part. It will not be easy, but the situation is desperate and to be frank, this is not a fight we can afford to lose; not just for ourselves but for our patients.
The future of the NHS is at stake and the recruitment and retention of staff will be vital in saving it from collapse. . We must stick together. Unity is strength.
What will increase our chances of achieving pay restoration for junior doctors in Wales?
We cannot say it enough. You are the union. The only way we win is through coordinated and organised effort. We need you to talk and keep talking. To each other. To your seniors. To our allied health professionals. There are tactics that will help us do this, which were covered in the pay activist training and are outlined in our An activist’s guide to winning the campaign – if you have not become a pay activist yet, you can still sign up and we’ll soon be looking to form a campaign team for each health board.
In the meantime, as your committee, we will keep on fighting for FPR for junior doctors in Wales and this includes WJDC representatives who will commence pay talks at the start of June.
We will keep you updated on our work to restore pay and establish safer working conditions, don’t forget to look out for emails and follow us on our social media channels to keep on top of any developments. Sign up to become a pay activist
Georgina Budd is co-chair the BMA Welsh junior doctors committee