The results of the consultative vote on the Scottish government’s pay offer was a turnout of 71.24% with 81.64% voting to accept a pay rise of 12.4% for this year, backdated to April, and for the next three financial years SJDC entering yearly negotiations with Scottish government that must make credible progress in real terms towards FPR to 2008 levels.
Watch a Q&A on the latest offer
Why we are campaigning
Pay erosion means that the starting salary for an FY1 in Scotland is as low as £29,036 (i.e. £27,653 + 5% supplement for unbanded posts). It means the basic hourly rate for a newly qualified FY1 doctor is as low as £14 per hour (based on a 40 hour week).
We do not believe that junior doctors are worth 23.5% less than their counterparts who were working in 2008.
We are calling for full pay restoration for junior doctors to 2008 levels to make up for this long term, demoralising and undermining deterioration in pay (compared to inflation as measured by the Retail Price Index, RPI).
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How we got here
We have provided an overview that aims to reassure any concerns and to help you to explain to others, the significance of this fight.
How it is decided
Junior doctors' pay is decided through an established process involving an independent pay review body - the DDRB (Doctors and Dentists Review Body) - which operates on a cross UK basis.
The annual uplift is entirely a matter for Scottish Ministers to decide whether to implement the DDRB recommendations. While they will always consider the DDRB report, they are not bound either by the recommendations or any decision taken elsewhere in the UK.
The BMA is calling for reform of the DDRB process so pay increases can be recommended independently and fairly to safeguard the recruitment and retention of junior doctors in Scotland.
Long term pay trends
Pay awards for junior doctors in Scotland from 2008/09 to 2021/22 delivered a real terms (RPI) pay cut of 23.5% for foundation year (FY) doctors and 23.9% for specialty registrars (StRs).
Much of this long term pay erosion occurred in the decade following the worldwide financial crisis in 2008 in which, amid a background of government austerity, junior doctors were routinely awarded pay uplifts of 1% or sometimes faced with a pay freeze.
Ironically, in the past few years, the annual pay uplifts had finally started to marginally outstrip inflation, giving some hope that the trend was going in the other direction, until the recent sudden rise in inflation over the past 12 months, which 2022 4.5% uplift has completely failed to match.
In 2022, the BMA made a case to the DDRB to increase pay by 2% above RPI inflation (essentially the rising cost of living), which was running at 11% in April and now stands at 12.6%. The DDRB, meanwhile recommended 4.5%, which in June 2022, the Scottish Government decided to implement for all doctors.
This fell well below what we asked for and equates to a substantial real terms pay cut - some 6.6% based on April 2022 inflation figures - rising to 8.1% given inflation at the time of writing.
What we did
Following the 2022 pay award by the Scottish Government, we immediately surveyed members to establish the strength of feeling and to guide our next steps.
You told us:
- 97% of junior doctors believed the pay award from the Scottish Government was too low.
- 93% of junior doctors do not think the pay awards recognised their contribution to the NHS
- 68% of junior doctors indicated this year’s pay award pushed them further towards quitting working for the NHS in Scotland.
- 93% of our surveyed members said they would be willing to take some form of industrial action over the issue of pay
We support you
In light of these results, the Scottish Junior Doctor Committee met in October 2022 and decided to:
- pursue a policy of calling for full pay restoration over a maximum of 5 years
- initiate preparations for industrial action, in the event that talks on pay do not prove successful
Since then, the Scottish Government have failed to engage meaningfully in talks over their approach to junior doctor pay – both in terms of 2022 pay award and the lack of a clear mechanism to even discuss pay restoration - despite being given numerous opportunities to do so.
As a result, SJDC in December 2022, entered into formal dispute with the Scottish Government and agreed to ballot junior doctor members in Scotland in the first quarter of 2023.
What you can do
Non BMA members
- You must be a BMA member to vote in future ballots.
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