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Two-thirds of junior doctors considering leaving NHS as industrial action looms


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poll shows 65% of junior doctors have “actively researched” leaving their jobs in the NHS as the sector prepares for a ballot on industrial action over pay.

The British Medical Association (BMA) survey of 3,819 junior doctors in England during November and December showed 79% “often think about leaving the NHS” while 65% “have actively researched leaving the NHS in the last 12 months”, according to the i newspaper.

It comes as strikes are also considered by doctors in Scotland and Wales.

The BMA announced in October that a ballot for industrial action by junior doctors in England, who received a 2% pay increase this year, will open on January 9.

The union said that over the past 15 years the take-home pay of junior doctors, which includes all doctors until they become consultants, GPs or specialists, has been cut in real terms by more than a quarter.

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BMA Scotland announced earlier this month its junior doctors would be balloted in the first quarter of 2023 on striking, after they “reluctantly” entered into a trade dispute with the Scottish Government.

The organisation’s Scottish Junior Doctors Committee said on December 8 it had “reluctantly entered into a trade dispute with the Scottish Government” following talks over pay failing to reach agreement.

Dates will be outlined in January for industrial action in the NHS in Scotland as staff claim the Scottish Government has imposed a pay offer despite overwhelming rejection from three health unions.

Days before Christmas, the British Medical Association Cymru announced doctors in Wales were considering going on strike for the first time.

Almost two-thirds of the just under 1,000 hospital doctors surveyed by the union this month said they would be willing to take some form of industrial action, including strikes, over their current pay and conditions.

The BMA’s Welsh Council chairwoman, Iona Collins, on December 22 called the result of the survey “upsetting to all” and said it is “gut-wrenching for doctors to consider walking away from work”.

Unions have signalled there is no end in sight to strike action, with the UK Government refusing to budge as it grapples with disputes on pay and working conditions across an array of sectors.

Thousands of nurses walked out on December 15 and 20, with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on Friday vowing to do the same on January 18 and 19 unless negotiations are opened.

The planned action will take place at more NHS employers in England than happened this month, increasing from 44 to 55 trusts, said the RCN.

Ambulance workers, meanwhile, joined picket lines on December 21 and will return to striking at five ambulance services in England on January 11 and 23.

But the planned post-Christmas strike on Wednesday by ambulance workers in the GMB union has been suspended.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has insisted that refusing to negotiate on public sector pay is the “right thing” in the long term.

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