The BMA has launched a strike action ballot of SAS doctors and a re-ballot of hospital consultants to extend their industrial action mandate until June next year.
Both ballots were launched today (6 November), as the union said that talks between BMA leaders and Government on how to resolve both pay disputes are still underway, but ‘no credible offer’ has been put on the table.
The BMA’s SAS committee entered formal negotiations last month, following a vote in favour of joining strike action over the Government’s unsatisfactory pay offer.
The union said that ‘productive and intensive talks’ between the consultants committee and the Government began last week, after ministers agreed to meet with the committee in the hope to find a resolution to the pay dispute.
The BMA said that progress so far ‘has been insufficient’ to change plans to launch the re-ballot but that committee will not be announcing new strike dates at present.
Both ballots begin today (6 November) and close on 18 December, potentially giving mandates until June next year.
SAS committee chair Dr Ujjwala Anand Mohite said: ‘It’s disappointing that despite Government inviting us to talks it has failed to present us with a credible offer.
‘Whilst talks continue to progress we are clearly still somewhat short of the credible offer we are asking Government for.
‘We are therefore asking SAS doctors to give us the mandate for action, should we need it because the current round of talks fail.
‘SAS doctors have made it very clear that we do not want to strike, we want to work and care for our patients, but we can no longer ignore the profession’s ever-growing pay and working conditions concerns – it’s driving doctors out of our health service and leaving those of us who remain with an unmanageable workload all while feeling undervalued and burnt out.
‘Industrial action is our absolute last resort, and we remain hopeful that we’ll receive a credible offer as talks continue.
‘It is in the Government’s gift to find a resolution before Christmas and avoid strike action; patients and our NHS are relying on our leaders to do so.’
Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA’s consultants committee chair, said: ‘We gave the Government a month to get back around the table. Whilst it’s been incredibly frustrating that the Government didn’t respond until a few days before the deadline, we have now commenced talks.
‘These discussions have been constructive and are ongoing. Therefore, given our willingness to resolve this dispute we are not announcing further strike dates right now – but reserve the right to do so if necessary.
‘Our re-ballot begins today as planned as it’s vital that, even during these negotiations, we continue to have a legal mandate to call more industrial action if they break down.
‘Neither the Government nor senior doctors themselves want consultants to be on strike – we’d both much rather we were in hospitals seeing patients.
‘To prevent further strikes we need the Government to commit to fix pay now and for the future, only then can we not only resolve this dispute, but retain the NHS’s most expert clinicians at a time they’re needed most.’