Consultants’ remuneration for NHS work is now set to move into the national spotlight following yesterday’s vote by juniors in England for strike action in their fight for pay restoration.
Results of a BMA ballot of thousands of its consultants, over their own willingness to take industrial action, are due next week.
Over 47,600 junior doctors in England were eligible to vote in their BMA ballot. Almost 37,000 votes were cast and 98% voted in favour of strike action.
The association declared it was the largest ever turnout for any ballot of its doctor members with a record number of junior doctors voting for strike action.
It said: ‘With no meaningful engagement from the UK Government on pay, despite several letters and the BMA’s meeting with the Health Secretary in January, junior doctors in England will now prepare for a 72-hour walkout next month.’
BMA junior doctors committee co-chairmen Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi said in a statement: ‘This vote shows, without a shadow of a doubt, the strength of feeling among most of England’s junior doctors.
‘We are frustrated, in despair and angry and we have voted in our thousands to say “in the name of our profession, our patients, and our NHS, doctors won’t take it anymore”.
‘The Government has only itself to blame, standing by in silent indifference as our members are forced to take this difficult decision.
‘We have had a real-terms pay cut of more than 26% since 2008. This year we were offered an insulting 2% pay, which means with inflation at over 10%, we are working more than a month for free.’
They described juniors’ conditions as ‘ever-worsening’ – with more doctors being lured away from the NHS to find better paid jobs and quality of life elsewhere.
Ballot results breakdown:
- 47,692 junior doctors were entitled to vote in the ballot;
- 36,955 votes were cast, 77.49% of those entitled to vote;
- 36,218 answered ‘Yes’ to the question: ‘Are you prepared to take part in strike action?’;
- 716 answered ‘No’ to the question: ‘Are you prepared to take part in strike action?’;;
- 21 spoiled or otherwise invalid voting papers were returned.
The ballot took place for six weeks between Monday 9 January and Monday 20 February 2023.
Junior doctors in the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) will strike for the first time in the union’s history on Wednesday 15 March.
The outcome of the consultant vote will be used to guide the BMA whether to proceed to a statutory ballot on industrial action against cuts to consultants’ pay and the failure to address the ongoing pensions crisis.
It has warned the NHS is at severe risk of losing its most senior doctors as more than a decade of real terms pay cuts and punitive pension tax rules ‘leave consultants with little option but to reduce their hours or leave the NHS entirely’.
BMA consultants committee leader Dr Vishal Sharma claims senior doctors are cutting their hours or leaving the NHS ‘in their droves’, driven out of jobs unfair pension tax rules and brutal pay cuts.