Young doctors in Scotland say they have been left with no choice but to vote for a consecutive strike over wages and conditions.
NHS doctors warned they had reached a “tipping point” over a pay cut in real terms and a “paltry” offer of a 4.5% pay increase from the Scottish government amid a series of chilling pressures on the scene. of work.
BMA Scotland said talks “failed to reach an agreement to enter into meaningful negotiations on the restoration of full salary for junior doctors” after a drop of nearly 25% since 2008.
The union added that the offer, put forward by Holyrood earlier this year, had led to an “exodus” of staff who have felt “underappreciated, exhausted and demoralized” since the country emerged from the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Chris Smith, chair of the union’s young doctors committee, said colleagues were “saddling the moral pain of constantly having to apologize for the buckling system” to patients.
It comes after nurses on every board of health across the country voted to strike for the first time last month.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf previously defended the offer as the “biggest since the devolution”, adding that it “demonstrated that the Scottish government valued its medical and dental staff”.
But Dr Smith said some colleagues were struggling to pay rent, bills and meals amid the cost-of-living crisis, and he urged Holyrood to submit an offer that would match rising inflation rates.
He said: “No one entering medical school is motivated solely by financial reward; we want the best for the public and our patients.
“But right now, we can see that without stopping the burnout, demoralization and resulting exodus of talented and compassionate staff, we won’t be able to provide that care much longer.
“Years and years of being undervalued and underappreciated have brought us to this point. I want to make it absolutely clear that we did not make this decision rashly. We do this reluctantly.”
The BMA said junior doctors in Scotland had seen their real salaries fall by 23.5% from 2008/09 to 2021/22 for Foundation Year (FY) doctors, and by 23.9% for registrars. specialized (StR).
The union previously warned of a “brain drain” in Scotland’s NHS, with some lured to countries including Australia, Canada and New Zealand with promises of increased pay and better work-life balance.
A ScotPulse poll, commissioned by STV News, revealed that 44% of 1,285 Scots had little or no confidence in how ministers are running the health service.
Another 55% of respondents said they would consider private treatment if they could afford it, and 66% said the standard of public healthcare is getting worse.
The number of beds occupied by people who were ready to be discharged reached an average record of 1,898 in October, while only 61.9% of people who went to emergency departments were seen and subsequently admitted or discharged. high within four hours on the week through November. 27: another all-time low, according to Public Health Scotland (PHS).
The Scottish government’s goal is for 95% of patients to be seen within four hours.
Dr Smith admitted that a “remedial” pay offer “would not be a quick fix” for all the problems in Scotland’s NHS, but said it would “show that they are valued” beyond “warm words and platitudes”.
He added: “Some first-year young doctors in Scotland, FY1, who make life-and-death decisions and staff wards across the country, earn a basic salary equivalent to approximately £14 an hour. After years in college, some running up huge debts, that just isn’t enough.
“That’s why, in many ways, wage restoration is the government’s quick fix: It will take years to fix the personnel problems, because it takes years to train doctors; You can’t fix workplace culture and well-being overnight either, but by committing to paying your workers more than they deserve for doing work that is so invaluable, you are showing them that you value them. They are appreciated. They are recognized.
“Since 2008, the take-home pay of doctors has fallen by almost a quarter, 23.5% to be exact. As demand for NHS services skyrocketed, the amount successive governments were willing to compensate staff providing them plummeted. Enough is enough.”
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said he was “disappointed” by the union’s decision, adding that the requested increase was “unaffordable in the current climate.”
He added: “I have been very open about the real tax challenges we face. We have explored all options this year and there is no extra money to pay for without cutting the NHS and other public services.
“I offered to meet with the BMA again and wrote to them yesterday. In addition, I will be writing to the medical and dental review bodies to see if they would like to make a separate and specific recommendation for junior medical pay in 2023.”