Now doctors could STRIKE over pay amid public sympathy for NHS workers

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Now doctors could STRIKE over pay amid public sympathy for NHS workers following the coronavirus crisis

  • The average GP partner earns £113,000, according to figures from NHS Digital
  • Last month the Government announced a 2.8 per cent pay rise for doctors
  • Despite that they say years of smaller pay rises mean they are underpaid 
  • Plans for potential strike action are revealed in agenda of upcoming meeting 

Doctors are poised to strike over pay as they seek to exploit public sympathy for NHS workers in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

They claim there is ‘anger’ over ‘years of pay restraint’ and are demanding that the British Medical Association (BMA) examine the option of industrial action unless the Government gives them a ‘significant above inflation pay rise’.

The average GP partner earns £113,000 while hospital consultants pocket an average of just under £114,500, according to figures from NHS Digital.

Last month, the Government announced that doctors would get a 2.8 per cent pay rise – far higher than the rate of inflation.

Despite that, they say years of smaller pay rises mean they are underpaid and their plans for potential strike action are revealed in the agenda for the BMA’s forthcoming Annual Representatives’ Meeting on September 15.

Doctors claim there is ‘anger’ over ‘years of pay restraint’ and are demanding that the British Medical Association (BMA) examine the option of industrial action unless the Government gives them a ‘significant above inflation pay rise’ (file image)

The BMA has made pay one of its ‘prioritised motions’ which will be discussed and voted on during the virtual conference. 

The motion – drawn up by the BMA’s own Agenda Committee – proposes: ‘That this meeting acknowledges the significant work of UK doctors and medical students in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and that this work was performed on a background of sustained real-terms pay erosion for doctors in the UK.’

It calls on the BMA to survey members about the 2.8 per cent rise and ask ‘what action they believe the BMA should take next, in regard to tackling this real-terms pay-erosion, including the option of industrial action’.

Related motions have been put forward by local divisions. The Yorkshire Regional Council, for example, calls on the BMA to ‘demand significant above inflation pay rises to reverse years of freezes and sub-inflation pay impositions’. 

If the BMA calls a strike, it would be the third time it has done so in less than a decade. Before that, doctors had not gone on strike since 1975.

Tory peer and former Health Secretary Lord Lansley last night warned that industrial action risked undermining public support for doctors and the NHS as a whole.

‘As I have myself experienced often in the past, the views of many doctors across the country are not necessarily reflected in the actions of the BMA,’ he said.

‘I and people across this country are deeply grateful to doctors and NHS professionals for all they have done and continue to do during the Covid-19 crisis.

Last month, the Government announced that doctors would get a 2.8 per cent pay rise – far higher than the rate of inflation (file image)

Last month, the Government announced that doctors would get a 2.8 per cent pay rise – far higher than the rate of inflation (file image)

‘What we and they don’t need is for this gratitude to be undermined by the behaviour of trade unionists failing to recognise that at this stage, we all need to work collaboratively together.’

Another of the ‘prioritised motions’ urges the BMA to call on the Government to allow transgender individuals to self-identify so they gain ‘legal recognition of their [preferred] gender by witnessed, sworn statement’.

Ministers have shelved plans for self-identification, although Boris Johnson is still thought to be mulling over the controversial move. At present, a trans person must get the approval of two doctors to change the legal gender recorded on their birth certificate.

Another flurry of motions highlight the Black Lives Matter movement, with one calling on delegates to recognise what it describes as the ‘pandemic of racism and discrimination that silently terrorises our planet and our NHS’. 

A related motion says the death of George Floyd, who was killed by an American police officer in May, has ‘shone a light on institutional racism’ and doctors should ‘pledge to call out racism in our working lives’.

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