Junior doctors in Wales announce new strike dates in fight to restore pay
BMA Cymru Wales’ junior doctors committee has announced new strike dates as part of the dispute over pay.
In the absence of a credible pay offer to form the basis of talks to end the dispute, junior doctors from across Wales will take part in two further walkouts in February and March this year.
The first, a 72 hour full walkout will take place from Wednesday 21st February and the second a 96 hour full walkout from Monday 25th March.
The new rounds of strike action follow a 72-hour full walkout by junior doctors in January. The committee decided to announce new dates after the Welsh Government failed to produce a credible offer to end the dispute.
Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey co-chairs of BMA Cymru Wales’ junior doctors committee said: “After our last round of action, we wrote to the minister for health and social services, and we remain ready to enter discussions if a credible offer is presented by the Welsh Government.
“No doctor wants to strike, but whilst those in power fail to grasp the seriousness of the situation and the strength of feeling amongst our members we feel we have been left with no choice.
“We can no longer accept the unacceptable. After years of undervaluing our lifesaving service, our resolve has never been stronger. With record-high membership, we’re now a bigger, stronger union, and together we remain steadfast in our aim to restore our pay which has been cut by almost a third.
“A doctor starting their career in Wales will earn as little as £13.65 an hour and for that they could be performing lifesaving procedures and taking on huge levels of responsibility.
“We aren’t asking for a pay rise – we are asking for our pay to be restored in line with inflation back to 2008 levels, when we began to receive pay cuts in real terms. Pay needs to be fair and competitive with other healthcare systems across the world to retain and recruit doctors and NHS staff to provide much-needed care.
“On top of this junior doctors are experiencing worsening conditions because of significant gaps in the workforce and so more and more doctors are now looking to leave Wales to develop their careers for better pay and a better quality of life elsewhere”.
Strike action began in January after 98 % of junior doctors in Wales who took part in the ballot for industrial action voted to strike in pursuit of pay restoration, a campaign to restore their pay which has been eroded by almost a third (29.6%) since 2008/9.
The next rounds of action could once again see over 3,000 doctors with up to 11 years of experience out of medical school withdraw their labour from Welsh hospitals and GP surgeries across Wales in pursuit of a fairer deal for their service.
The Welsh junior doctors committee made the decision to ballot members in August last year after being offered another below-inflation pay offer of 5% – the worst in the UK and lower than recommended by the DDRB (the review body for Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration).
The offer was put to the doctors just four months after the Welsh Government initially declared they would commit to the principle of pay restoration back in April 2023.
The next round of strikes will take place from 7am Wednesday 21 February – 7am Saturday 24 February (72 hours) and from 7am Monday 25 March – 7am Friday 29 March (96 hours).
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that doctors have decide to take industrial action again, but we understand their strength of feeling about the 5% pay offer.
“While we wish to address their pay restoration ambitions, our offer is at the limits of the finances available to us and reflects the position reached with the other health unions for this year. Without additional funding from the UK Government, we are not in a position to currently offer any more. We will continue to press them to pass on the funding necessary for full and fair pay rises for public sector workers.
“We remain committed to working in social partnership with the British Medical Association and are available for further talks at any stage. We will work with them and NHS Wales to ensure patient safety is protected during industrial action.”
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