Junior doctors in Scotland are set to strike next month after voting to reject a pay offer by the Scottish Government.
The announcement by the British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland came just a few hours before thousands of junior doctors in England began a 72-hour strike in support of a 35% pay claim. The stoppage began at 0700 on Wednesday and is due to end at 0659 on Saturday 17 June.
Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS England's national medical director, warned yesterday that the NHS was likely to face "enormous" disruption, with thousands of routine procedures being rescheduled.
Junior Doctors in Scotland Want a 'Credible' Pay Deal
On Tuesday, BMA Scotland confirmed 3 days of strike action by junior doctors would take place between 12 and 15 July unless there was a new offer that could "credibly" be put to members.
Following negotiations with BMA Scotland, the Scottish Government made a "final" offer in May for a 14.5% uplift over the 2-year period 2022-24. The offer meant a pay rise of 6.5% for the current financial year, as well as an additional 3% on top of last year's 4.5% pay award. According to the Scottish Government the offer would mean that a doctor at the beginning of their career could expect a total salary increase of £3,834 over 2 years, whilst for those at the end of their training the rise would be £7,951 over the same period.
Scotland's health secretary, Michael Matheson, described the offer at the time as "fair and progressive".
A 'Decisive and Clear' Vote
However, in the consultative ballot, 71.1% voted to reject the offer, whilst 29.1% voted for acceptance. There were 3250 votes cast, and turnout was 66.3%.
"Our membership has once again spoken decisively and clearly," said Dr Chris Smith, chair of the BMA's Scottish junior doctors committee.
The doctors' union argued that the offer did not address real terms pay cuts since 2008 and the effects of inflation. "Under that offer, pay erosion would still have been a staggering 26.5% over the last 15 years when our jobs have become more challenging, more complex and are being done in an NHS which is under greater pressure than ever," Dr Smith said.
BMA Scotland said it was seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Matheson to discuss a way forward.
The dates earmarked by the union would see strike action begin at 0700 on Wednesday 12 July and end at 0659 on Saturday 15 July. The BMA said advance notice would allow NHS boards and the Scottish Government to plan ahead for what was likely to be severe disruption to health services.