At the beginning of the month, UK Council ratified our decision to enter a formal trade dispute over pay with the Welsh Government. I wrote to inform the Minister for Health and Social Services, and to highlight the gravity of this situation.
The Welsh Government has let us down after a decade’s worth of real time pay cuts, chronic staff shortages and persistent underfunding. Since 2008/09 the real terms take-home pay of consultants in Wales has been cut by an astonishing 30.3%. The offer of 5% - the lowest uplift in the UK - which does not even match the DDRB (Doctors and Dentists Review Body) recommendation has left us with no choice, and we have started to prepare to ballot our members on industrial action.
A 5% uplift for consultants will fuel the numbers of doctors retiring early or moving overseas for improved conditions and pay. We know that consultants are under significant pressure caused by gaps in the workforce, so investing in staff retention should be the number one priority when looking to improve NHS services.
Consultants are now looking at early retirement, changing to part time or moving abroad, adding further pressures to an already beleaguered workforce.
The next generation of potential consultants are thinking again as to whether this is a profession they still aspire to enter, as both respect for the profession is absent, and pay is further degraded.
Our work as consultants is invaluable. We provide essential services to patients every day, often under challenging circumstances. Our call for fair pay that reflects the level of responsibility and clinical risk we undertake is justified.
The decision to enter a trade dispute has been a difficult decision to make, however for the sake of the future of our health service we feel there is no other choice. We have made it clear to Welsh Government that we are willing to re-enter negotiations at any time, if a credible offer is presented.
The coming weeks are going to be crucial in building the momentum behind our pay campaign, to increase the pressure on the Welsh Government to act and listen to the concerns and needs of consultants.
We urge you to mobilise, join our campaign, speak to fellow doctors, and prepare for industrial action.
You can help by:
- Updating your membership details, including postal address and up-to-date place of work. Accurate details are essential in helping us ensure you receive a ballot paper and ballot results are valid and cannot be challenged,
- Encouraging colleagues who are not members to join the BMA
- Becoming a pay campaigner
- Telling international colleagues who have recently moved here about the free membership for their first year of UK residence
- Joining your local WhatsApp group to see what your local reps are organising.
We will keep you regularly informed on developments.