“We deserve better and are not worth 23.5% less than 2008”- full pay restoration

In 2022 the Scottish Government gets its doctors for 23.5% cheaper than it did in 2008.

Away from the hospital corridor photo opportunities, the clapping on doorsteps and the public declarations of thanks, this government has overseen an assault on the living standards and professional integrity of doctors. With a new justification at every turn our goodwill and sense of duty has been exploited. In 2022 we are paid less; we are valued less.

Since 2008, junior doctors have received pay freezes and below inflation pay ‘uplifts’ which have not recognised our contribution to the NHS. After 15 years of this pay erosion relative to inflation a junior doctor working today receives 23.5% less than they would have in 2008. The 4.5% ‘record pay rise’ we received this year represents a further 7.3% pay cut. It is our aim on behalf of junior doctors to force the Scottish Government to commit to full pay restoration – a full reversal of this historic and unsustainable decline in our pay – before it is too late.

Because the pressure and workload of doctors in 2022 is not 23.5% less than it was in 2008.

Doctors today operate in an increasingly competitive, yet paradoxically understaffed and under resourced workplace. It is more difficult and more expensive than it ever has been to become a doctor and it is more difficult and more expensive than it ever has been to simply be a doctor.

We work in hospitals that are broken. We witness the avoidable harm that patients suffer when they attend a public health service that can no longer provide for them, and we carry the moral injury that results. We are asked to provide an increasingly complex service that we no longer have the resources to deliver, and we are more likely to shoulder the burden of individual responsibility for the systemic failures that result.

We move across the country at short notice, leaving family and friends behind. We work full-time extra jobs in research, leadership, and teaching – for free. We pay extortionate and inflation busting fees to the GMC and to the royal colleges. We pay for quasi-mandatory conferences, publications, and professional courses.

We deserve better.

It takes many years to train a doctor but very few for one to leave.

Doctors have options, and they are taking them. They are leaving to work abroad in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. They are leaving to work in numerous professions across the private sector who welcome their qualifications and skills. They are taking locum shifts for fees which more accurately reflect the market value of their work than the £14 an hour they currently receive. Doctors would be crazy not to consider these options, after all, private sector pay has recovered to its 2010 base line. Pay for UK finance workers has spiked 31% since the start of the Covid pandemic alone.

This is not sustainable. The NHS does not work without its doctors.

The Scottish Junior Doctors Committee reached out to the Scottish Government to ask them to enter into negotiations with us to develop a serious plan to restore junior doctor pay to 2008 levels in real terms within five years. We indicated that a pay rise significantly above inflation was a minimum requirement for this year’s pay deal to take us closer to that aim and put the NHS workforce on a sustainable path going forward.

But the Scottish Government refused to enter any kind of negotiation. They continue to believe junior doctors working today are 23.5% less valuable than in 2008. They appear happy to continue presiding over a managed decline of the workforce and NHS. They expect doctors to continue working the equivalent of 1 week every month for free.

This attitude is damaging the NHS. It is harming our patients.

On the 1st of December 2022 the Scottish Junior Doctor Committee voted to ballot BMA members in Scotland for strike action in the first quarter of 2023. We have been pushed too far on all fronts and this decision should demonstrate we are serious about doing what it takes to stop the rot. We will no longer accept the governments mismanagement of our profession and our health service. We hope the Scottish Government will finally wake up, listen, and act.

It is time to join the BMA. When the time comes – vote to strike.

Joint blog from Hugh Pearson and Scott McGlynn – Joint Deputy Chairs of SJDC responsible for TCS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s