Junior doctors in England overwhelmingly back strike action in pay dispute

Junior doctors in a silent protest outside Bristol Royal Infirmary (PA) (PA Archive)
Junior doctors in a silent protest outside Bristol Royal Infirmary (PA) (PA Archive)

Junior doctors in England have said they are prepared to go out on strike in a dispute over pay.

A ballot of junior doctors, who are members of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA), saw 97.48% of them vote in favour of striking.

The HCSA said there was a 74.76% turnout, and the union will agree “the timing and shape” of the action in coordination with other health unions.

The HCSA said that 397 people out of 531 who were entitled to vote took part in the ballot.

Junior doctors are telling us they have had enough of being taken for granted. They are telling us they will leave the country if things do not get better

HCSA president Dr Naru Narayanan

The number of votes cast in the ballot is at least 50% of the number of individuals who were entitled to vote.

Around 45,000 junior doctors, who are members of the British Medical Association (BMA), have also been balloted over strike action – with the result due at the end of February.

HCSA president Dr Naru Narayanan said the ballot result should act as a “wake-up call” to the Government ahead of the BMA result, and called on them to “negotiate a way out of this crisis”.

Dr Narayanan said: “The Government must see this result as a wake-up call from its current complacency.

“Junior doctors are telling us they have had enough of being taken for granted. They are telling us they will leave the country if things do not get better.

“This is a critical issue for our NHS.

“If the Government does not increase pay as part of a wider funding package, then the current ragged workforce will collapse and the hospital consultants of the future will vote with their feet and leave.

“We are teetering on the edge of a precipice. Now is the time to negotiate a way out of this crisis.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said:  “Junior doctors do an incredible job and it is disappointing some union members have voted for strike action at a time when the NHS is already under huge pressure from Covid, flu and tackling the backlog.

“Junior doctors’ pay will increase by a cumulative 8.2% by March 2023 as part of a multi-year pay deal which also invested an additional £90 million to provide the most experienced junior doctors with higher pay, increase allowances for those working the most frequently at weekends, and increase rates of pay for night shifts.

“The Health and Social Care Secretary met with medical unions last week for constructive discussions about the 2023/24 pay review process – recognising cost of living and workforce pressures – and was clear he is keen to continue talking.”