Doctors in Wales urged to accept latest pay deal

A 48-hour strike in April was suspended to allow for negotiations with the Welsh Government to take place. Strike action by junior doctors was also put on pause.

A new pay offer has been put forward to doctors in Wales after months of negotiations and strike action.

Junior doctors, specialist (SAS) doctors and consultants are all now being encouraged by the union BMA Cymru Wales to accept the deal, with it being described as a 'big step in the right direction'.

It comes after strike action was put on pause in April for negotiations with the Welsh Government.

Three rounds saw 10 days of industrial action by junior doctors this year with operations and appointment rearranged or cancelled as a result.

A strike by consultants and specialist doctors was called off a week before it was due to take place.

What is on offer?

Junior doctors are being offered a 12.4% uplift for 2023-2024. It includes a 5% paylift which has already been paid and will be backdated to April 2023.

A restructure of the pay structure for consultants has been put forward, with some seeing a pay rise of up to 10.1%. The aim being to better reward performance and address the gender pay gap. It will be backdated to January 2024.

For specialist doctors, the pay offer includes increases of 6.1%-9.2%, with an additional uplift for others.

Junior doctors have taken strike action for 10 days so far this year. Further action was paused in April when negotiations began.

How have unions responded?

BMA Cymru Wales said the offer has been reached after weeks of sustained pressure and pay negotiations with the Welsh Government since April.

Members will have two weeks to vote with the union encouraging doctors to accept the offer.

Speaking on behalf of junior doctors, Dr Oba Babs Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey said they are hopeful this step will bring them closer to a better future for the profession.

“We entered pay negotiations in good faith to reach a deal that will put us on the path to achieving full pay restoration to address the years of erosion to our pay.

"We’re satisfied that this offer delivers on our ambition. This offer puts us well on the path to pay restoration."

An end to industrial action?

The Welsh Government is hopeful that the offers will be accepted and bring an end to dispute and industrial action. But the First Minister and Health Secretary has warned the offer is at the 'limit of affordability'.

"The negotiations have been robust and while the aim was to end the 2023-24 dispute and prevent further disruptive strike action, these offers also ensure the additional investment in doctors’ pay is balanced against commitments towards operational reforms, which seek to address productivity and efficiency and achieving future contract reform.

"These pay awards, if accepted, will also help to address inequalities in the senior NHS medical workforce."

'Labour dithered' over pay deal

Responding to today's pay offer, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives said whilst Labour had dithered, waiting lists got worse.

Andrew RT Davies said: “After offering the worse settlement figure in the UK the Labour Government claimed there was no money to meet the pay increase.

“Now it appears the money was always there and whilst the Welsh Government were dithering, Wales’ longest waiting lists on record have been exacerbated.

“The Welsh Conservatives have been clear that we would spend the full Barnett uplift received for health on health to end Labour’s inhuman two-year waiting lists.”

Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Health, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, said: “We welcome the improved pay offers made to junior doctors, SAS doctors and Consultants, and that non-pay elements, such as the reform of pay scales and contract terms will also be included.

“Plaid Cymru has been clear: our NHS is nothing without its dedicated staff and it is only right therefore that they are awarded as such.

"Today’s news is a welcome step forward. It’s now important that discussions continue and that the Labour Welsh Government provide a long-term commitment for full pay restoration so that hard working NHS staff do not have to consider industrial action again.”

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