Junior doctors, like general practice, had a pre-agreed pay deal that was negotiated before the pandemic. The deal gave them a 2% pay increase this year, which the government intends to stick with despite it giving other doctors and NHS staff on the Agenda for Change pay deal a 3% increase.
In response the BMA has launched a survey of junior doctors to determine what action, if any, it should take, which includes the potential for industrial action.
The BMA said the government had failed to recognise the efforts of junior doctors throughout the pandemic.
Chair of the junior doctors committee Dr Sara Hallett said: ‘3% is not an adequate uplift for any of our vital NHS staff, but in refusing to award the additional 1% to junior doctors in England above their multi-year pay deal, ministers have effectively devalued their enormous and lifesaving contributions over the last 18 months.’
Real-terms pay cut
The BMA highlighted that junior doctors have been subject to a 23% real terms decline in take-home pay between 2008/9 and 2019/20.
The pandemic has also taken its toll on junior doctors. A BMA survey in April this year found that 40% of junior doctors said they were experiencing depression, anxiety, stress, or burnout that had become worse during the pandemic.
Dr Hallet said: ‘Given the significant lengths that junior doctors have gone to throughout the pandemic and the profound impact this has had on their personal and professional lives, the Government’s decision to exclude them from the pay uplift announced last month is nothing short of insulting.
‘The last 18 months have been amongst the most challenging for junior doctors in recent history, and they have worked tirelessly to treat patients and protect the nation against this deadly virus, at times even placing their own lives at risk.’
She added: ‘Understandably, many doctors will be angry and feel deflated that the government has chosen not to recognise their efforts with a fair reward. As exhausted junior doctors continue to make incredible sacrifices whilst facing the largest ever backlog of care, it is time for the government to urgently reconsider their approach and ensure that junior doctors get the fair uplift they deserve.’
Last month GP leaders accused the government of seeking to divide the profession with a ‘shameful’ 3% NHS pay award that could force partners to cut their own income to deliver extra pay to practice staff.
Under the five-year GP contract deal that began in 2019, general practice is in line for a 2.1% funding increase in 2021/22. GPonline reported last week that providing salaried GPs and other practice staff with a 3% pay rise could see the average practice’s wage bill rise by £20,000 without extra funding to cover practice costs.