Two thirds of junior doctors considering leaving the NHS as industrial action looms

A poll shows 65% of junior doctors have “actively looked into” leaving their jobs in the NHS as the sector prepares for a vote on industrial action over pay.

The British Medical Association (BMA) survey of 3,819 junior doctors in England during November and December found that 79% “often think about leaving the NHS” while 65% “have actively researched leaving the NHS in the last 12 months “, according to the newspaper.

It comes as strikes are also being considered by doctors in Scotland and Wales.

The BMA announced in October that a ballot for industrial action by junior doctors in England, who received a 2% pay rise this year, would open on 9 January.

The union said that over the past 15 years, the minimum wage for junior doctors, which includes all doctors until they become consultants, GPs or specialists, has effectively been cut by more than a quarter.

BMA Scotland announced earlier this month that its junior doctors would be up for strike action in the first quarter of 2023, after they “reluctantly” entered into a trade dispute with the Scottish Government.

The organisation’s Scottish Junior Doctors Committee said on 8 December that it had “reluctantly entered into a trade dispute with the Scottish Government” after talks over pay failed to reach agreement.

Dates will be outlined in January for industrial action in NHS Scotland as staff claim the Scottish Government has introduced a pay offer despite overwhelming rejection by three health unions.

Days before Christmas, the British Medical Association Cymru announced that doctors in Wales were considering going on strike for the first time.

Almost two-thirds of the just under 1,000 hospital doctors surveyed by the union this month said they would be willing to take some form of industrial action, including strikes, over their current pay and conditions.

The BMA’s Welsh council chairman, Iona Collins, on 22 December called the result of the inquiry “outrageous for everyone” and said it was “tiring for doctors to consider leaving their jobs”.

Unions have signaled there is no end in sight to strike action, with the UK government refusing to budge as it grapples with disputes over pay and working conditions across a range of sectors.

Thousands of nurses walked out on December 15 and 20, while the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on Friday promised to do the same on January 18 and 19 unless negotiations are opened.

The planned action will take place at more NHS employers in England than happened this month, increasing from 44 to 55 trusts, the RCN said.

Ambulance workers, meanwhile, joined pickets on December 21 and will return to strike at five ambulance services in England on January 11 and 23.

But the planned strike after Christmas on Wednesday by ambulance workers in the GMB union has been cancelled.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has insisted that refusing to negotiate on public sector pay is the “right thing” in the long term.

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