Posted: Tue 9th Apr 2024

Industrial action suspended as doctors enter pay negotiations with the Welsh Government

North Wales news and information

Doctors across Wales have suspended forthcoming industrial action after talks between union representatives and the Welsh Government reopened.

The Welsh Government and BMA Wales’ three national committees representing consultants, specialist doctors and junior doctors have today agreed to formal negotiations about pay,

According to BMA Cymru Wales, the devolved government has made a “significant proposal” to form the basis of talks to end the pay disputes.

Since the meeting last week, the committees representing doctors from all three branches of practice have voted to enter pay negotiations based on this proposal.

It comes following months of sustained pressure on the government, including three rounds of industrial action by junior doctors in Wales.

Junior doctors recently staged a 96-hour walkout as part of its calls for fairer pay.

According to BMA Cymru Wales, doctors’ pay has been cut by almost a third (29.6%) since 2008/9.

Following today’s announcement the planned 48-hour strike by consultants and specialist doctors due to take place from 16 April will now be suspended.

Junior doctors have also paused plans to announce more strike dates whilst they enter negotiations with the government.

The Welsh junior doctors committee, Welsh SAS committee and Welsh consultants committee will now each engage in pay negotiations, with the aim of reaching deals which can be taken separately to their respective members.

Dr Oba Babs Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey, co-chairs of the BMA’s Welsh junior doctors Committee, described today’s announcement as a “significant step forward.”

They said: “It is sad that we had to take industrial action to get here, but we are proud of members for demonstrating their resolve in pursuit of a fair deal for the profession.

“Whilst we are optimistic and hope to quickly resolve our dispute, we remain steadfast in achieving pay restoration. Until we reach a deal, nothing is off the table.

“We will continue to work hard to reach an offer that is credible to put to members who will ultimately have the final say.”

Dr Stephen Kelly, chair of BMA Cymru Wales’ consultants committee, said the union was hopeful that it can “reach a deal that sufficiently addresses years of erosion to our pay to help retain senior doctors.”

Dr Ali Nazir, chair of BMA Cymru Wales’ SAS doctor committee, said: “As a committee, we felt that this latest development goes someway to understanding the strength of feeling of our members.

“We will work hard to reach a settlement that sufficiently meets the expectation of our colleagues who have faced real terms pay cuts of up to a third since 2008/9.”

In August last year, the BMA’s committees representing secondary care doctors in Wales voted to enter into separate trade disputes with the Welsh Government after being offered a below inflation pay uplift of 5% for the 23/24 financial year.

SAS doctors on some contracts were offered as little as 1.5%. This was the lowest pay offer any government in the UK offered and less than the DDRB, the pay review body for doctors and dentists, recommended last year.

As part of their disputes, SAS doctors, consultants and junior doctors carried out successful ballots for industrial action.

Since then, junior doctors have taken part in 10 days of industrial action since January this year.

Commenting on the reopening of talks, First Minister Vaughan Gething said: “We recognise the strength of feeling among BMA members and that industrial action is never taken lightly.

“This is a government that listens and engages to find solutions. I prioritised a meeting with the BMA directly alongside the Cabinet Secretary for Health to reinforce our commitment to that partnership approach.

“We currently face the most severe financial situation in the devolution era which makes our task far harder.

“Despite this backdrop, we have worked to identify a way forward that I hope will lead to the successful resolution of this dispute and ensure that doctors can return to work in NHS Wales.”

Cabinet Secretary for Health Eluned Morgan added: “Even in these very challenging circumstances, we have worked in social partnership with the BMA and NHS to maintain patent safety during industrial action.

“But the strikes have been very disruptive to the delivery of NHS services – none of us want to see doctors on strike.

“I am pleased the three BMA committees have agreed to pause further industrial action and begin formal talks with Welsh Government and hope we can bring an end to this dispute.”



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