Two-thirds of junior doctors do not think the NHS will survive the next decade, according to a new BMA survey.
Nearly 2,000 doctors were surveyed, of which a ‘disturbing’ 53% are thinking about or making plans to leave the NHS as a result of the Government’s response to the industrial dispute.
This comes as junior doctors begin a three-day walkout from today, which follows their latest strike in April.
The BMA confirmed the industrial action dates last month based on the Government’s ‘paltry’ 5% pay offer, which is well below the full restoration junior doctors are asking for, after a 26% real terms cut over the last 15 years.
The survey also found that 89% of junior doctors in England report that the Government’s handling of pay negotiations has ‘left them feeling less valued than they were before the dispute started’.
BMA chair of council Professor Phil Banfield has today written the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak asking him to step in to resolve the dispute, as nearly four in five (79%) of respondents said they did not think health secretary Steve Barclay had the power to ‘genuinely negotiate’.
Co-chairs of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee Dr Vivek Trivedi and Dr Robert Laurenson said: ‘Junior doctors in England have seen their pay cut in real terms by more than a quarter over the last 15 years.
‘Today, they are demonstrating what that means to the survival of the NHS. Junior doctors don’t expect the NHS to survive at the current rate. And they are right – it cannot survive without its most precious resource, its workforce.
‘The NHS can only function with a workforce that is properly valued, and that is impossible when doctors are being told they are worth a quarter less than they were 15 years ago. When doctors say that the Government’s attitude is causing them to think about leaving the NHS, the Government has to listen.’
Mr Barclay said the strikes starting today are ‘extremely disappointing’ and will ‘put patient safety and our efforts to cut waiting lists at risk’.
He said: ‘During recent meetings with representatives of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, we made a fair and reasonable opening offer and were discussing both pay and non-pay issues until they chose to end the talks by announcing new strike dates.
‘If the BMA cancels these damaging and disruptive strikes and shows willingness to move significantly from their position, we can resume confidential talks and find a way forward, as we have done with other unions.’
The survey of 1,935 junior doctors in England was conducted between 12 and 30 May this year, and 53% of respondents said they are even making active plans or are thinking about leaving the health service due to the handling of the industrial dispute, where before they had not considered it.
The motion said GPs should ‘take a similar approach’ to junior doctors and ‘must consider’ industrial action to ‘achieve full pay restoration’.