NHS Scotland faces doctor crisis as 78% ready to strike in pay dispute

More than three-quarters of doctors who took part in a recent survey have said they are prepared to strike in a pay dispute

Published

The study, undertaken by BMA Scotland, spoke to 3,100 medics north of the border between July 20 and August 5 after a 4.5 percent offer was rejected.

Of those asked, 78 percent said they would be willing to take part in strike action to deliver a better pay award.

Elsewhere, 90 percent said the offer was too low, while 88 percent said they feel their contribution to the NHS was not reflected in the offer, and 58 percent said they are more likely to leave the health service.

Lewis Morrison, BMA Scotland chairman, said the results show the level of “dissatisfaction, disillusionment and indeed outright anger” doctors are feeling.

Dr Morrison added: “It puts the Scottish Government on warning that the status quo for doctors in Scotland is no longer acceptable and in truth hasn’t been for some time.

NHS Scotland could come under serious pressure
NHS Scotland could come under serious pressure
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has been asked to attend an 'urgent meeting'
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has been asked to attend an 'urgent meeting'

“This survey was about this year’s pay uplift, which in itself was completely unacceptable and amounted to a massive real terms pay cut.

“But it’s important to remember the wider context – where doctors have suffered years of pay erosion and are bearing the brunt of trying to care for patients in an NHS that is basically collapsing around them.

“And that’s after more than two years of heroic efforts on the frontline of the pandemic.

“Like many other public sector workers, doctors are now clearly saying enough is enough – we need action to make our working lives better, and there’s no doubt that pay is one of the key starting points.”

The chairman, who will leave the post at the end of this month, said he and his successor Iain Kennedy have written to Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to arrange an “urgent meeting”.

Dr Morrison added: “While that is ongoing, members on the committees that represent each individual separate branch of practice – so that is junior doctors, consultants, GPs, and staff and specialist doctors – will be considering and discussing the implications for their own members and their own next steps.

“As the pay award will impact on doctors at different stages of their careers, it’s only right that each committee is allowed to proceed on that basis.

“But if action isn’t forthcoming urgently to set out how the Scottish Government will address the need for change, we will all be guided by members on the next steps, and while it will ultimately be up to each committee on how to proceed, I would expect all options, including different types of industrial action and leaving the (Doctors and Dentists Remuneration Board) process will be on the table.

“Of course, no-one would ever take industrial action lightly and it would only be a last resort when other avenues have been exhausted.

“But it is clear from our survey that this is a live option, and members are willing to consider taking a variety of types of industrial action, up to and including strike action if required as a last resort.”