Doctors in Wales consider strike for first time

British Medical Association Cymru said doctors in Wales are considering going on strike for the first time.

Almost two-thirds of hospital doctors surveyed this month by the union said they would be willing to take some form of industrial action, including strikes, over their current salaries and conditions.

The announcement comes after nurses and ambulance staff have gone out of business for a week to demand better wages and conditions across the country.

Iona Collins, chair of the BMA’s Wales Council, described the poll’s result as “sad for everyone” and said it was “heartbreaking that doctors are considering going away from work”.

He added: “If action is not taken now, patients will continue to suffer as a direct result of an underfunded NHS with inadequate direct clinical care.”

In October, the BMA announced that voting for industrial action for young doctors in England, who received a 2% increase in their salaries this year, would open on 9 January.

The union said the take-home pay of young doctors has been cut by more than a quarter in real terms over the past 15 years.

Just under 1,000 doctors in Wales responded to the survey seeking opinions on the Welsh Government’s 4.5% final salary award, and 78% of respondents said they would like a salary increase equal to or exceeding inflation.

A previous survey by the BMA in August found that 52% of responding members were more likely to leave the Welsh NHS as a result of a below-inflation salary increase.

Madelaine Watkins joins members of the Royal College of Nursing in the strike line outside Cardiff University Hospital

Madelaine Watkins joins members of the Royal College of Nursing at the picket line outside Cardiff University Hospital earlier this week (PA)

Dr Collins said the result of the latest survey “disappointed everyone, including the doctors involved”.

“Doctors are healthcare professionals who spend most of their lives caring for others. They care about their job passionately and take their profession seriously.

“It’s heartbreaking when doctors consider quitting when they know they’re so needed at work.

“Doctors have been quietly leaving the NHS for years by reducing their contract hours or leaving altogether. The financial incentive to stay on the NHS has eroded over the past decade.

“Furthermore, a change in NHS pension taxation has resulted in senior doctors working overtime in good faith being penalized by reimbursing excess overtime pay as pension tax to support the NHS.

“No other health system devalues ​​their doctors so much, so it’s no wonder so many doctors leave the NHS to work elsewhere.

“Patient waiting lists are at record levels and the NHS workforce impasse is affecting healthcare workers generally.

“If action is not taken now, patients will continue to suffer as a direct result of an underfunded NHS with inadequate direct clinical care.

“On this basis, we hope the Welsh Government will finally wake up to the crisis in the medical workforce and take serious action, starting with better pay awards as part of an urgently needed plan to address years of salary erosion.”

Dr Collins said he called for an urgent meeting with Wales’ health minister, Eluned Morgan, to discuss the survey and the “urgent need for action”.

Leave a Comment