All medics stand with junior doctors as pay talks resume, says BMA chairman

Dr Iain Kennedy also hit out at the Scottish Government’s 6% pay award for 2023 for senior NHS staff.

Scottish medics “stand in solidarity” with junior doctors in their pay dispute with the Scottish Government amid “deep unhappiness” with a new pay award for senior staff, the chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland has said.

Negotiations resumed between the Scottish Government and the BMA’s junior doctor committee on Tuesday after First Minister Humza Yousaf promised “the biggest ever pay uplift” in an effort to avert a three-day walkout beginning on July 12.

That came after a 14.5% increase, initially called the “best and final offer”, spread across two years was previously rejected by 71% of junior doctors.

Mr Yousaf also praised a record 6% pay increase for senior NHS staff following negotiations with the Doctors and Dentists Pay Review Body – however the uplift, which adds to the 4.5% award in 2022, was described as disappointing by senior medics.

In his speech to BMA Scotland’s annual representative meeting (ARM), chair Dr Iain Kennedy said medics across all of Scotland feel “deep unhappiness, anger and disillusionment” as they demand better pay and working conditions.

He also warned Scottish ministers to address the retention issue within the NHS amid a “workforce crisis”.

He told delegates: “The whole of the medical profession in Scotland stands in solidarity with our junior doctors and their fight to win fair pay.

“Secondly, and equally, as Dr (Chris) Smith said himself – I do hope that today the Scottish Government agrees to pay junior doctors fairly, so that the need to strike can be averted.

“Fixing the retention of doctors must be the priority. Recruitment alone is futile. Which is why we were so disappointed with the below inflation pay award announced by the Scottish Government.

“It just won’t be enough to even begin to reverse pay erosion or address the workforce crisis we face.”

Hospital ward
The BMA also raised concerns about staff retention in the NHS (PA)

Dr Kennedy said members will now be consulted on the next steps in demanding a better pay award.

He also urged medics to continue to speak up “without fear of being labelled a troublemaker” as figures showed 96 whistleblowing concerns were officially raised across all 14 health boards in 2021.

“It’s shameful that we work in an NHS where some doctors feel they can’t speak up on behalf of patients without repercussions for themselves or their careers,” he said.

“It’s simply not good enough. Our patients are our number one priority and all of Scotland’s doctors should feel free to speak up without fear or favour.”

In response to the whistleblowing comments, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “It is vital that everyone who works in our health service has the confidence to raise any concerns they may have.

“Policy measures are in place to support this and staff should raise a concern with their line manager or team leader, or with a more senior manager if circumstances mean this is more appropriate.

“There are also a dedicated whistleblowing champions in each health board to ensure staff are encouraged and supported to speak up.”

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