Junior doctor members of the British Medical Association (BMA) have voted overwhelmingly to strike in support of their campaign for full pay restoration.
Feeling is extremely strong. Over 98 per cent voted in favour of strike action, on a 77 per cent turnout. The strike will be for 72 hours, on dates to be announced, followed by further action.
Junior doctors – those below consultant level – have had more than a decade of cuts in real pay. The BMA says that pay has fallen by 26 per cent over the past fifteen years.
Under the current pay agreement, they are due to receive a 2 per cent increase in March. Doctors in training posts enter the profession already carrying significant debt from their student loans. Restoration of the pay cuts is vital to retain these highly-trained people in the National Health Service.
For the first time doctors plan to withdraw members from emergency departments, intensive care, and cancer treatment centres when taking action.
Members of the smaller Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) have also voted to strike for the first time in the union’s history. Again support is high, with 97 per cent voting in favour of strikes on a 75 per cent turnout.
These votes come as many sections of the NHS are taking action over pay and retention. Nurses were prepared to strike for 48 hours at the beginning of March (suspended currently for talks). Ambulance staff in Unison, Unite and the GMB are preparing for further action. Physiotherapists too are taking action for the first time.