UK doctors warn of industrial action, call for pay rise

pharmafile | June 28, 2022 | News story | Manufacturing and Production  

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) have voted to press ministers to agree to a pay rise of up to 30% over the next five years, sharing that salaries have not kept up with inflation for over a decade. The members warned that industrial action may be taken if the government fails to act.

The BMA delegates believe the 30% pay rise is necessary to make up for real-terms cuts to doctor salaries over the last 14 years.

Dr Emma Runswick, a member of the BMA’s ruling council, and the delegate who proposed the motion, stated: “We should not wait for things to get worse. All of us deserve comfort and pleasure in our lives. Pay restoration is the right, just and moral thing to do. But it is a significant demand and it won’t be easy to win. Every part of the BMA needs to plan for how to achieve this.”

The government in England is due to announce this year’s pay award soon.

“It’s likely that industrial action will be required to move the government on this issue,” Dr Runswick underlined.

The pay review body is expected to recommend that NHS personnel, not including doctors and dentists, should get an increase this year of somewhere between 4% and 5%. This figure sits above the 3% that ministers have set as a firm maximum, but is well below that demanded by health unions.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are incredibly grateful to all our NHS staff and we recognise the pressures caused by the rising cost of living. NHS staff received a 3% pay rise last year, despite a public sector pay freeze, and in 2019 the government and the BMA agreed to a multi-year pay deal for doctors in training, which guaranteed an 8.2% rise in pay over four years.

“We are giving NHS workers another pay rise this year – no decisions have been made and we will carefully consider the recommendations from the independent pay review bodies.”

Dr Vishal Sharma. Chair of the BMA’s consultants committee, commented: “Government inaction would be completely unacceptable in any circumstances, but is especially insulting when we consider the immense sacrifices made during the pandemic.”

Ana Ovey

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