Minister urged to return to negotiating table to end junior doctors dispute
The Health Minister is being urged to return to the negotiating table with junior doctors before further strike action takes place later this month.
Last week it was announced by BMA Cymru Wales’ junior doctors committee that “In the absence of a credible pay offer to form the basis of talks to end the dispute” junior doctors across Wales will take part in two further walkouts in February and March.
The first, a 72 hour full walkout, is planned from Wednesday 21 February and the second a 96 hour full walkout from Monday 25 March.
The new rounds of strike action follows a 72-hour full walkout by junior doctors in January.
South Wales East MS Delyth Jewell has called on Eluned Morgan to return to the negotiating table with doctors’ leaders to prevent further strikes.
Plaid Cymru’s Deputy Senedd Leader Delyth Jewell MS said: “The pay of junior doctors in Wales has been cut by almost a third in real terms since 2008-09. There is real danger that successive pay cuts will drive even more doctors away from the profession at a time when patients need them most. Junior doctors are not asking for a pay rise; they’re asking for pay restoration.
“I’m aware of how difficult the financial settlement that we have is, however, doctors’ salaries must be fair and competitive with those in other healthcare systems around the world, otherwise we will lose them.
“ I urge the Welsh Government to return to the negotiating table with the junior doctors in an effort to avoid more strikes, because they don’t want to be on strike either; they want to be in the hospitals helping patients.”
Strength of feeling
Responding to the threat of further strikes, Eluned Morgan said: “…we certainly recognise the strength of feeling amongst junior doctors, and, whilst we certainly are very keen to address their pay restoration ambitions, I’m afraid that the 5 per cent that has been put into their pay packages is at the limits of the finances available to us this year, and, obviously, it’s the same thing as has been offered to other health unions this year.”
Co-chairs of the BMA’s Welsh junior doctors committee, Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey, said: “What we are asking for is not unreasonable, nor is it unaffordable; however, Wales cannot afford to lose any more doctors, and we can no longer accept the unacceptable.
“We would always be willing to return to the table if a credible offer was put forward. “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.”
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