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Doctors in Wales strike for pay

27 March 2024

Junior doctors on strike earlier in the dispute, University Hospital, Cardiff, 15 January 2024. Photo PA Images / Alamy.

Junior doctors in Wales have begun their longest industrial action to date in their pay dispute with the Welsh Government. More than 3,000 BMA members are expected to take part in the four days of industrial action.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said that it had been left with no choice, as doctors’ pay had dropped by almost a third in 15 years. Action started at 7am on Monday 25 March and will last until 7am on Friday 29 March.


Junior doctors’ pay has been cut by almost 30 per cent in real terms since 2008 levels. The BMA points out that the Welsh Government says it is committed to the principle of full pay restoration to 2008 levels. But in pay negotiations it made a first and final offer to uplift pay by a derisory 5 per cent.

This is the worst pay offer for junior doctors in the UK. It is below even the recommendation from the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration. The review body said that the Welsh government had not presented a pay proposal or an affordability figure.

Instead the government “…stressed to [the review body] that NHS organisations in Wales were already facing significant financial pressures in 2023-24, and that many health boards were already expecting to overspend significantly, to the extent that this may affect their ability to deliver services.”

No funds

That Welsh Government’s claim it does not have the funds to improve its 5 per cent pay offer, which junior doctors have rejected, seems to be mainly their own fault.

And predictably it has blamed this situation on a lack of funds from the UK Government – while somehow still finding funds for many unpopular changes. Few expect anything to change with the new First Minister of Wales, Vaughan Gething.

Just two weeks after rejecting the Welsh Government’s pay offer, the Welsh junior doctors committee voted unanimously to ballot members on industrial action. Over 97.6 per cent of those who voted supported industrial action.

‘Doctors are ready to enter discussions once the Welsh government makes a credible offer.’

Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey, co-chairs of BMA Cymru Wales’s junior doctors committee, said after the last round of action they had made it clear to the minister for health and social services that doctors are ready to enter discussions once the Welsh government makes a credible offer.

They explained, “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.

“Junior doctors are starting their careers earning £13.65 an hour in Wales. Is that all they are worth? They are providing lifesaving care after training for years and are shouldering up to £100,000 of debt.”

Consultant and specialist doctors will also go on strike in Wales next month after they voted in favour of industrial action due to a pay dispute. They will walk out over workplace conditions caused by extreme pressures and unsafe staffing levels, according to the BMA.