Doctors in Wales vote to accept Welsh Government pay offer to end strikes

Doctors in Wales had been striking over pay. Credit: PA Images

Junior doctors, specialist doctors and consultants in Wales have voted to accept the Welsh Government’s pay offer, putting an end to pay disputes which had resulted in strike action.

It comes after two months of pay negotiations which began in April this year after sustained pressure from BMA Cymru Wales, including three strikes by junior doctors and planned industrial action by senior doctors.

In a referendum, 96% of junior doctors voted to accept a 7.4% additional uplift taking the total to a 12.4% uplift for junior doctors for the 2023/24 financial year, which will be back-dated to April 2023.

BMA Cymru Wales said 86% of consultants also voted to accept a revised consultant pay scale which will improve early years pay and increase career average pay to retain the senior workforce.

They said 82% of SAS members voted to accept the offer which will see increases of 6.1-9.2%, as well as an additional uplift for associate specialists – senior doctors who are on closed contracts.

Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey, co-chairs of the BMA’s Welsh junior doctors committee, said: "This pay deal and the emphatic vote by members to accept it shows how far we have come on our journey to fight for the future of our profession.

"For too long, junior doctors have been undervalued.

"We chose to stand up and be counted, refusing to accept further cuts to our pay. While we are pleased with the progress we have made, the fight for full pay restoration is far from over."

Dr Stephen Kelly, chair of BMA Cymru Wales’ consultants committee, said: "We’re pleased to have been able to reach a fairer settlement for senior doctors in Wales and we hope that this significant offer will help to retain the doctors currently working in Wales as well as attracting more, which will ultimately be beneficial for patients."

Dr Ali Nazir, chair of BMA Cymru Wales’ SAS doctor committee, said: "For far too long the invaluable contribution of SAS doctors in Wales has been disregarded and so reaching a fairer deal for this experienced part of the workforce is very much welcomed. We will continue to fight for the rights of SAS doctors."

First Minister Vaughan Gething and health secretary Eluned Morgan said in a joint statement: "We are pleased to confirm the pay offers we made to consultants, SAS doctors and junior doctors to end the strikes and settle the pay dispute in 2023-24, have been accepted.

"Each of the BMA’s three branches of practice voted overwhelmingly in favour of accepting the respective pay offers.

"We will now begin the process of implementing the pay award, so doctors and dentists employed in the NHS will receive the payments as soon as practicable.

"We would like to thank members of the BMA’s negotiating teams and NHS Wales Employers for the constructive nature of the talks.

"Implementing these offers will end this dispute and industrial action, meaning doctors will return to work in Wales for the benefit of the public and NHS services.

"The Welsh Government is fully committed to working in social partnership to deliver better working lives for all NHS staff and better public services for people in Wales."

Sam Rowlands MS, Welsh Conservatives' shadow minister for health, said: “The Welsh Labour Government has acted shamefully throughout this episode.

“By only releasing the funds for a pay deal when it was politically advantageous to do so, Labour have caused the strikes which led to missed operations, extra pressure on our NHS and undue stress on Wales’ consultants, SAS doctors and junior doctors.

“The Welsh Conservatives will never play politics with the Welsh NHS.”

Plaid Cymru health spokesperson in the Senedd Mabon ap Gwynfor said: “Recruitment and retention remains a huge issue within the NHS. These disputes have highlighted again that poor working agreements and remuneration are utterly unsustainable.

"The NHS is nothing without its workforce. Fair pay through fair play is the cornerstone of a functioning workforce plan – ensuring that doctors and nurses remain in the profession.

"This is central to Plaid Cymru’s vision of an NHS free at the point of need.

"Plaid Cymru is demanding an end to the conspiracy of complacency from Westminster parties towards Wales when it comes to funding. Our nation deserves a fair deal that doesn’t leave us shortchanged year on year, and which fully reflects the needs of our population. Only then can we put the NHS on a sustainable footing to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.

"Unless Keir Starmer's government commits to fair funding for Wales, we'll be back here again in a year's time."

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